On Monday we told you about a new lawsuit that’s been filed against Mayor Annise Parker and the city of Houston, alleging they violated the civil rights of anti-gay pastors who are trying to repeal LGBT protections in the nation’s fourth-largest city.
Meanwhile, the City Council is set to decide Wednesday whether to repeal the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) or place it on the November ballot, after the Texas Supreme Court ordered it to do so last month.
Also pending is a petition seeking to enshrine a transgender bathroom ban in the Houston city charter. After officials rejected the anti-trans petition, a judge ordered them to count the signatures, but the city says it plans to appeal.
All told, Houston has become an epicenter in the post-marriage-equality struggle for LGBT rights. However, in a column published by The Huffington Post, Media Matters’ Carlos Maza claims pop megastar Beyonce, a Houston native, could put the whole thing to rest with one Instagram post (prompting local activist Brad Pritchett to create the images above and at right):
Opponents of LGBT equality have fought to put HERO on the ballot for a repeal vote this November, and thanks to a recent Texas Supreme Court decision, they’ll likely succeed.
That means Houston is in for a nasty, dishonest and divisive campaign to repeal HERO and legalize discrimination against LGBT Houstonians. These kinds of campaigns don’t usually end well for LGBT people: they’re dehumanizing, traumatic and usually result in LGBT people losing their basic civil rights.
But that could change if the world’s proudest and most famous Houstonian decides to stand up for her LGBT fans and speak out in favor of keeping HERO. With a single post to her over forty million Instagram followers, Beyoncé could change the debate over Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance and mobilize support for protecting LGBT Houstonians from discrimination.
While Beyonce could certainly help draw attention to the HERO fight, it’s probably a stretch to say she could end it with a single post on social media. Rather, the real key to this fight will be outspoken support for HERO from the many large corporations based in Houston. It would also be nice to have the NCAA and the NFL come out against the effort to repeal HERO. The Final Four will be in Houston in 2016, followed by the Super Bowl in 2017.
In any case, Mayor Annise Parker issued the following statement Monday in response to the lawsuit alleging she violated anti-LGBT pastors’ civil rights:
This new lawsuit is not about civil rights or religious freedom. It’s about politics. It is being waged by a small group that wants to take Houston backward instead of moving it forward. I respect the pastors’ right to use our legal process how they see fit, but their energy would be better invested in making sure Houston remains a welcoming, inclusive city that does not discriminate. Houston simply isn’t the City it was 20 or 30 years ago. We are a diverse mixture of residents who get along and are accepting of each other’s differences. It is this open and inclusive atmosphere that helps make Houston attractive to new residents, new business, major sporting events like the Super Bowl and more. The ongoing effort by this group threatens to hurt that image and our progress.
You can read the pastors’ full complaint and watch KHOU-TV’s report in it below.