Houston Voters Reject LGBT Protections Ordinance By Wide Margin

Opponents succeeding in spreading myths about predators in women's bathrooms.

After a lengthy, costly—and sometimes ugly—battle, Houston’s equal rights ordinance was repealed by voters yesterday by a margin of 61 to 39.

The City Council passed the measure in May—barring discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, race, age and a number of other factors—but opponents managed to get it put on the ballot for a public referendum.

Citizens for Houston, the leading opposition to the measure, led a campaign alleging HERO would allow male predators into women’s bathrooms: The slogan “No Men in Women’s Bathrooms” — was plastered on signs and t-shirts throughout the campaign.

“It was about protecting our grandmoms, and our mothers and our wives and our sisters and our daughters and our granddaughters,” Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick told a crowd on election night.

“I’m glad Houston led tonight to end this constant political-correctness attack on what we know in our heart and our gut as Americans is not right.”


Mayor Annise Parker made the ordinance a major part of her third and final term—even offering to match donations. She was aided by celebrity support from Matt Bomer, Sally Field, and others.

Even the economics were on the side of equality: The pro-HERO group, Houston Unites, raised nearly $3 million, compared to Campaign for Houston’s more than $1 million.

But in the end, the voices of fearmongering won the day.

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.