HERO has fallen, according to the Associated Press.
With 66 percent of precincts reporting Election Day returns, the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance was trailing 61 percent to 39 percent.
The pro-HERO coalition Houston Unites conceded the race in an email shortly after AP called the vote:
The coalition partners that make up Houston Unites, including ACLU of Texas, Equality Texas, NAACP Houston Branch, Texas Freedom Network, Freedom for All Americans and the Human Rights Campaign, released the following joint statement after today’s vote.
“We are disappointed with today’s outcome, but our work to secure nondiscrimination protections for all hard-working Houstonians will continue. No one should have to live with the specter of discrimination hanging over them. Everyone should have the freedom to work hard, earn a decent living and provide for themselves and their families.
“Although Houston won’t yet join the 200 other cities that have similar nondiscrimination measures, the fight continues. We will continue telling the stories of Houstonians whose lives would be better off because of HERO – including people of color, people of faith, veterans who have served our country, women, and gay and transgender people.
“We’ve learned some important lessons, as well. We have to continue sharing our stories so that more Houstonians know what HERO is really about and aren’t susceptible to the ugliest of smear campaigns run by the opposition. And we must remember that all of us are stronger when we stand together, speaking up with one voice for protections like those in HERO, rather than allowing those who oppose fairness and equality to divide us.”
Speaking at the pro-HERO campaign’s election watch party, Mayor Annise Parker called the anti-HERO campaign “a calculated campaign of lies designed to demonize a little-understood minority,” referring to transgender people.
“They just kept spewing an ugly wad of lies from our TV screens and from pulpits,” Parker said. “This was a calculated campaign by a very small but determined group of right-wing idealogues and the religious right, and they know only how to destroy, not how to build up. It was clear when we passed the ordinance in council, that if we had agreed and said we’ll take gender identity out, they would have gone away. That would have been wrong then, and it would be wrong now, and it will be wrong in the future.”
Well before AP called the vote, anti-LGBT elected officials were already celebrating. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a Houstonian who paid $70,000 for an anti-HERO TV ad, issued this statement:
“I want to thank the voters in the City of Houston for turning out in record numbers to defeat Houston Prop 1 — the bathroom ordinance. The voters clearly understand that this proposition was never about equality — that is already the law. It was about allowing men to enter women’s restrooms and locker rooms — defying common sense and common decency.
“I got involved and took a leadership role in fighting this misguided ballot proposition because we have to stand up to this kind of pandering to political correctness. It’s unfortunate that liberals like Annise Parker are so out of touch with the people of Houston that something like this shows up on the ballot.
“The supporters of this proposition brought in movie stars and elites from Washington, DC and Hollywood to try to force their twisted agenda on the good people of Texas. It didn’t work and advocates of this ridiculous proposal are on notice tonight that the voters of Houston will not stand for this kind of liberal nonsense.”
Lambda Legal weighs in:
Today, Houston voters went to the polls and rejected the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), defeating a citywide ordinance that would have prohibited discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodation on the basis of race, age, gender, pregnancy, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or military status. Kenneth D. Upton Jr., Senior Counsel in Lambda Legal’s South Central Regional Office in Dallas, and Lambda Legal Dallas-based Community Educator Omar Narvaez issued the following statements after results of the election were announced:
“We knew this vote would be an uphill battle, and we witnessed the opponents of HERO pull out all the stops, launching a campaign full of distortions and fear-mongering designed to mislead and confuse voters,” Upton said. “But we also saw an impressive coming together of the Houston business, faith and civic communities in Houston Unites, which campaigned tirelessly in support of HERO and for ensuring that all Houstonians can live their lives and provide for their families without fear of discrimination. Sadly, the ugly and divisive tactics of the opponents of HERO succeeded in persuading a majority of Houstonians to vote no. But we have faced disappointments before that did not stop us – this fight for fairness is far from over.”
“Working on the ground in Houston, especially in the days leading up to Tuesday’s vote, I witnessed firsthand the passion and dedication of everyone at Houston Unites,” Narvaez said. “This loss is tough to take, and the hatred and misinformation that was spread about people who are transgender, in particular, was unconscionable. I am proud to have been part of this grassroots effort and truly believe that we will be back and that full and equal protections for all Houstonians will be achieved in the near future.”
And the ACLU.
Said Terri Burke, Executive Director of the ACLU of Texas:
“It’s a tragedy that Houston remains the only major city in Texas—indeed, the last big city in the United States—that does not extend equal rights protections to all of its residents and visitors. This is not who we are and I hope when this issue arises again, the city’s majority will vote and do the right thing. The next mayor and newly elected members of Houston’s city council must prioritize the passage of a new equal rights ordinance as quickly as possible.
“Opponents of equality utilized fear-mongering and disinformation to sway Houston voters to deny equal rights and protections to people in this great city, but none of us who have worked to bring equality to Houston are throwing in the towel. We will continue the fight to ensure that everyone can live fairly and equally under the law.
“We have been honored and privileged to host the dedicated staff of the Houston Unites campaign in our headquarters and in our homes. We intend to harness the energy and enthusiasm of everyone who came together for this campaign to continue the fight for equality in Houston and across Texas.”
Both the 2016 Final Four in April and Super Bowl LI, scheduled for February 5, 2017, are set to take place in Houston.
Expect calls for both to be relocated.