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Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance To Be On Ballot After City Council Votes Against Repeal

The next step is for voters to decide if the controversial law survives.


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The Houston City Council voted not to repeal the equal rights ordinance, which means it will be placed on the ballot in November.


There were no surprises at City Hall, as council members voted 12-5 against repeal of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, also called HERO.

With one exception, all those who voted against the ordinance when it was first passed last year voted for repeal.

They were Brenda Stardig, Dave Martin, Oliver Pennington, Michael Kubosh and Jack Christie.

Dwight Boykins voted against, saying the citizens should decide.

The law will now be on the November ballot.

Slightly more contentious was the question what the language on the ballot would be.

Council member C.O. Bradford, who is a lawyer, offered an alternative to the language the city’s legal department proposed. He says the City Charter requires the referendum to ask voters to vote on the ordinance, not on repealing it.

According to Bradford, it should say, “Shall the city of Houston implement suspended city of Houston, Texas, ordinance No. 2014-530…”

First Assistant City Attorney Deidra Penny reassured council members that even though the ordinance is suspended, it’s still on the books.

She said that’s why there needs to be a vote for or against repealing it.

Confronted with two competing legal opinions, council member Jerry Davis expressed what many felt: “In the words of council member Kubosh: I’m confused.”

In the end, more council members believed the city’s legal department, and Bradford’s amendment failed 12-5.

This means in November, Houstonians will vote yes or no on a referendum that asks:

“Shall the City of Houston repeal the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, Ord. No. 2014-530, which prohibits discrimination in city employment and city services, city contracts, public accommodations, private employment, and housing based on an individual’s sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, familial status, marital status, military status, religion, disability, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity, or pregnancy?”

Parker said while she won’t act as the face of the equal rights ordinance, she will actively campaign and raise money to achieve a vote against repeal in November.


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