Texas Supreme Court grounds Houston’s HERO

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HOUSTON – Gotham City has Batman for its hero.

Houston also has its HERO: The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance.

Or it did until the Texas Supreme Court said the Houston City Council has 30 days to repeal the ordinance or to place it on the November ballot.

The ordinance passed in May 2014 bans discrimination based on sex (as in gender), race, age, and religion, along with sexual orientation and gender identity.

The plaintiffs’ main objection is that HERO allows men who identify as women to use women’s restrooms.

Opponents sued the city after the city council overrode a determination by the city secretary who said they had enough petitions to put a repeal measure on the ballot.

Today, they said the court’s decision reaffirms the fundamental right to vote.

“This isn’t a Republican or Democratic thing that we’re doing. This is an American thing that unites us together. And that’s why we’re here, because we care about the right to vote,” said Andy Taylor, attorney for the plaintiffs.

Mayor Parker released a statement in which she said “I am disappointed and believe the court is in error with this eleventh-hour ruling in a case that has already been decided by a judge and a jury of citizens.”

Lane Lewis is the chairman of the Harris County Democratic Party, and he doesn’t like the ruling either. “This is outrageous. The city of Houston can never be a world-class city as long as we condone discrimination against our neighbors. This is about hate. This is about discrimination.”

Noel Freeman is the former LGBT Political Caucus president. “HERO was overwhelmingly supported at Council. It was overwhelmingly passed by Council. And I think the opponents of HERO, they can enjoy a victory today, but in November, we’re confident we’re going to win at the ballot box.”

Governor Abbott also released a statement saying “Today’s decision . . . appropriately returns jurisdiction over this matter to voters while reassuring the people of Houston that their personal values remain beyond the reach of government.”

The court has spoken, now it’s up to the mayor and city council to take the next step.

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