By Chad Griffin
As Houston’s LGBT community knows far too well, the fate of the city’s Equal Rights Ordinance will be decided on Tuesday. This is the final chapter in a battle that should have ended last year, when the City Council overwhelmingly passed an ordinance that would establish local protections from discrimination for so many of Houston’s more than two million citizens. Instead, and despite irregularities in our opponents’ signature gathering, the all-Republican-elected Texas Supreme Court forced HERO to be repealed or put on the ballot.
And on Tuesday, if we don’t turn out the vote for HERO, they could succeed in taking our rights away. We can’t afford to let that happen, and not just because of what’s at stake for our community.
HERO would ensure that every Houstonian—regardless of their race, age, gender, religion, military status, sexual orientation, or gender identity—has the opportunity to earn a living, take care of their families, and live their lives without fear of discrimination.
These are crucial protections everyone rightfully deserves as residents of this remarkable city, and as citizens of our great country. That’s why so many organizations have joined together—HRC, Houston Unites, leading businesses, the ACLU of Texas, Equality Texas, the Texas Freedom Network, the Houston Branch of the NAACP, and many others—to ensure that every pro-equality voter shows up at the polls on Election Day.
Our opponents’ lies are despicable. But, unfortunately, they can be effective at scaring fair-minded people into voting the wrong way. I traveled to Houston this past week and saw firsthand the scare tactics, the disgusting transphobic lies, and the hundreds of thousands of dollars our opponents are throwing into the campaign at the last minute to try and prevent HERO from passing.
We have got to band together and make sure that they don’t win.
With all that’s at stake, the eyes of the nation are on Houston this week. In the last few days, President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton have all spoken out for HERO. Major U.S. companies like Apple, and Houston businesses big and small have endorsed HERO. And, many of our most visible allies from Sally Field to Matt Bomer to Michael Sam have spoken out.
With only a few days left, we need everyone to vote—and to talk to their friends, neighbors, and co-workers about why HERO is so important to you, and should be important to them. To win, it will take all of us telling each and every person who will listen that the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance is the right thing to do—for Houston, for Texas, and for America.