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What Houston’s Reaction to the Equal Rights Ordinance Says About My City

HERO evokes another era—one we shouldn’t be proud of.

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Flickr Creative Commons/BPPrice

Editor’s note: The day after this article published, Houston Texans owner Bob McNair asked that his donation to anti-HERO efforts be returned. He cited unauthorized statements about his opposition to the ordinance as the reason for rescinding his contribution. 

Seldom have I had occasion to feel ashamed of my adopted hometown of Houston. Like so many people, I spend most of my days believing it’s a great, underappreciated city where diversity and tolerance thrive, at least as long as the economy keeps churning along and no one discovers a true alternative source of energy. But the events of the last few weeks have reminded me of an older Texas, the one I wanted to get the hell out of when I was growing up—the one that was a center of backwardness and bigotry I told myself Houston had left behind.

Thanks to the fight over the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, a proposition on the city’s November 3 ballot, I’m reminded that my illusions were just that. The ordinance is designed to protect fifteen classes of people—on the basis of race, ethnicity, age, military service, gender, pregnancy, sexual orientation—from discrimination in housing and employment and the like. Houston is the only big city that doesn’t have one, and the only city in Texas that’s lacking one. It’s designed not only to protect against discrimination but to allow for speedy redress without, literally, building a federal case, which can take forever to resolve.

But if you’ve read previous posts, you know that HERO has turned into a death struggle between, well, Houston future and Houston past. The city council passed an ordinance in 2014, but litigation followed from the religious right, and ultimately the Texas Supreme Court ordered that the ordinance either be removed or put to a vote. Hence HERO’s place on the November ballot. The group promoting the ordinance—which the mayor and the business community whole heartedly support—is Houston Unites, a well intentioned but somewhat disorganized group that for months has been trying to assure passage. On the other side is a conclave of far-right interests, from politicians to ministers—black and white—to the current lieutenant governor of Texas, all of whom seem dedicated to promoting the idea that HERO is not about equal rights for all, but about granting transgender women and sexual predators the opportunity to infiltrate women’s restrooms. Just in case you missed it, there’s long been a law on the books preventing men from entering women’s restrooms, and vice versa. And, for a pretty long time, rape in any location has also been against the law.

Up until very recently, most Houstonians did not pay much attention to this fight because, well, it was pretty unthinkable that an ordinance granting equal rights to just about everyone in town wouldn’t just…succeed. Instead, as in years past, the far right was organized, ready, and well funded, using the bathroom tactic to mask its very real and very deep loathing of people who identify as gay or transgender.

Branding the equal rights proposition as “The Bathroom Ordinance” has proven to be extremely effective. The first commercial featured a young woman who said she might want to have her baby in Houston one day, but because of coed bathrooms, was thinking hard against getting pregnant at all. (I know, but still. It worked.) Soon after former Astro Lance Berkman joined the fray, worrying about what might happen to his wife and four daughters if they used Houston’s public restrooms. (Mayor Parker responded on Twitter, calling Berkman a hypocrite because he uncomplainingly played baseball in other cities with equal rights ordinances. “Guess his daughters didn’t go to the games,” she noted.) The most recent ad showed a man entering a restroom stall behind a little girl.

Then there were the public appearances. First came Steven Hotze, who in August railed against LGBT activists in his usual dramatic fashion. Carrying a sword on stage at the beginning of his “Faith, Family Freedom Tour,” he declared: “I’m not going to fight homosexuals with sweet words. I’m going to fight them with God’s word.” His goal, he said, was to drive gays and transgender men and women clear out of town. “Has anybody ever heard of the Nazis? Were they wicked? Ok. What did we send our boys over to do in World War II?” This, of course, is the same man who runs the Hotze Health and Wellness Center, offering women safe, natural release from the agonies of menopause, candida and libido loss.

And last week we were treated to a sermon by the pastor of Houston’s 63,000 member Second Baptist Church, Ed Young. Flipping through the pages of the ordinance on the church’s sprawling stage during his Sunday Sermon, he proclaimed that HERO “opened up our city to something I think is absolutely Godless.” He went on to insist that: “Those of us who believe men should use men’s facilities and women should use women’s facilities—we will be discriminated against.” Then he urged his brethren to “vote No, No, No, on the first ordinance you read because it will carry our city further and further down the road of being totally in my opinion secular and Godless.”

There were a couple problems with what Young said. There is the separation of church and state thing—oh, yeah, that—but he also noted his wife had recently encountered a man leaving a women’s restroom as she was walking in. Hate to be a wet blanket here, but there was no equal rights ordinance in effect at that time, because the mayor had suspended it pending the litigation and the vote. Then too, he was short on details: Maybe the bathroom user was a transgender man, sure. But maybe he was just…a janitor? One more thing crossed my mind as I watched Young preach on a YouTube video: how many closeted men, women, and children listened to that good Christian’s sermon and asked themselves why God didn’t love them, and contemplated doing something dire about it? But that’s just the mom in me talking.

Finally, there was Dan Patrick, who acting as both lieutenant governor and talk show host declared at a press conference that “no woman should have to share a restroom or locker room with a man.” Women sportscasters everywhere might breathe a sigh of relief—except for that sexual discrimination thing.

Caught by surprise, the pro-HERO forces now appear to be rallying. The Greater Houston Partnership has joined the fray, fearing protests and boycotts that could endanger the Super Bowl scheduled for Houston next year. It didn’t help that the owner of the Texans, Bob McNair, donated $10,000 to the anti-HERO forces.* Maybe, given the performance of the Texans, he figured he had nothing to lose.

There are less than two weeks until the election, and I am thinking it might be a good time to take to my bed, or at least disconnect from all news producing devices. I’d like to continue to live with the illusion that Houston is a whole lot better than this.

 

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  • Frank Seager

    Can anyone give an example of a right that heterosexuals have that homosexuals do not also have?

    • JMohawk787
      • LarryECollins

        FALSE. Texas is a right to work state. ANYONE can be fired for any reason or no reason, and without cause. So why should homosexuals be afforded protection no other group has? Housing discrimination I can understand, up to a point.

        • JMohawk787

          Larry, “right-to-work” laws relate to union membership only, and have nothing to do with sexual orientation: “Texas is a right-to-work state. This means that under the Texas Labor Code, a person cannot be denied employment because of membership or non-membership in a labor union or other labor organization. Tex. Labor Code Ann. §§ 101.001, et al.

          Texas laws protect employees from threats, force, intimidation, or coercion for choosing to either participate or not participate in a union. In other words, the choice of whether to join a labor union is yours; you may not be required to join or pay dues to a union as a condition of employment, nor may you be denied employment because you have joined a union.” Source: https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/agency/right-to-work-laws-in-texas

          The harsh reality is that in the state of Texas (along with 28 other states), I could be fired tomorrow for no other reason than being gay. http://mic.com/articles/121496/one-map-shows-where-you-can-still-be-fired-for-being-gay-in-2015

          • Burntfox Burnt

            No one can fire anyone due to sexual orientation, religious beliefs, skin color, etc ad nauseum.

            Quit beating this horse. Please.

            If they did, it would open them to a criminal and civil lawsuit that would ruin them fiscally and criminally.

            All it would do is create another law for more lawyers to interpret and punish everyone that they can…

          • Htowndude

            Legally, in Texas you can be fired for being gay. “We don’t like your kind working here!”
            was quoted to me, when I was fired. So your first statement is ignorant.

          • tipofthespear65

            Was it at will employment?

          • johnschuh

            Men have been fired for cheating on their wives. Do we include adulterers on the list of protected? Can’t we discriminate against men who are constantly in heat because God made them that way?

          • Luke Taylor

            Get a clue. Look at all the gay bashings that occur. Do you ever her of adulterer bashings???

            Get a clue. As I mentioned above, straight employees do not get harassed or bullied like gay people do. It just isn’t the same. Just simply being gay incites such anger in some people in a way that an adulterer would not. If that was the case, why didn’t Kim Davis refuse marriage licenses to adulterers??? She just picked on the gays.

          • Jed

            wrong. one of those things is not covered under the existing anti-discrimination statutes. there would be no violation to sue over.

            that is the point. how can you not get this (other than willfully)?

          • Texpat

            You are absolutely incorrect. It is mind boggling that in this day and age people just say whatever they want without having any idea if it is really true with so much information available. There are no state or federal protections for sexual orientation or gender expression.

          • Luke Taylor

            There is actually a case going on right now w/ a man named John Gaspari. His co-workers harassed him because he is gay and his boss made his life miserable. Ultimately, he was fired because people were uncomfortable w/ him being gay,

            And guess what? The typical redneck Texan GOP judge (who, by the way, was overhead using the word “[email protected] in court) kept throwing evidence out and doing all he could to dismiss the case. If you are gay, you WILL NOT get a fair trial anywhere in Texas outside of Austin.

            As a general rule, straight employees and tenants do not get harassed or bullied like gay people do. It just isn’t the same. Look at all the gay bashings that occur. This is why these protections are needed so at least we have some chance.

          • Frank Seager

            J, you could also be fired for your Zodiac sign, the football team you root for, and lots of other reasons. And yes, a heterosexual can be fired for being straight. Heterosexuals have no rights that homosexuals don’t already have.

          • Mike Crowder

            ” a heterosexual can be fired for being straight.” … and you see no problem with that?

          • Frank Seager

            Mike,
            I see a problem with the stupidity of firing a good employee because of sexual orientation. But unless you can show that this stupidity puts heterosexuals or homosexuals at an economic disadvantage relative to the other group, I see no reason for government intervention.
            Bottom line is that homosexuals have all the same rights as heterosexuals already. Equal rights already exist. So the premise of this so-called “equal rights ordinance” is a scam. Why do people want to create more bureaucracy and more government intrusiveness in there lives when there is no demonstrated and compelling reason for doing so?

          • anotherinterestedreader

            True. More bureaucracy and government intrusion – and I would add frivolous lawsuits – is the issue.

          • Luke Taylor

            WRONG. Gays and straights are not on an equal playing field to begin with. People in Texas have such a negative view towards gays that a gay employee has to really excel much higher than his straight counterpart because straight Texan bosses are just waiting for the gay guy (or gal) to fail. I am 49 years old and have seen this happen over and over again. People are much more likely to discriminate against gays in Texas because of their supposed religious beliefs which people are now using to discriminate against gays in and out of the workplace.

            Look at the Kim Davis issue – she claimed her religious beliefs made her discriminate against gays but she didn’t discriminate against adulterers or murderers. Same thing in the work world – gays would get the boot much quicker than an adulterer, murderer or rapist -for sure.

          • Texpat

            People don’t fire people for being straight. You really test the limits of intellectual thought. Just say what you mean. You think it is ok to discriminate against gays.

          • johnschuh

            People do fire men for being womanizers. Some gays can cause similar problems in an office. That’s a fact.

          • Texpat

            No. People get fired for sexual-harassment. That is entirely different.

          • Luke Taylor

            When has that EVER happened?? There are plenty of gay bashings and other violent acts against gays each year but have you ever heard of a “Straight Bashing” or a “Zodiac Bashing?”

            Get a clue. As I mentioned above, straight employees do not get harassed or bullied like gay people do. It just isn’t the same. Just simply being gay incites such anger in some people in a way that being a Taurus or an adulterer would not. If that was the case, why didn’t Kim Davis refuse marriage licenses to adulterers??? She just picked on the gays.

          • LiberTea

            The point is to be so useful to your employer that the idea of firing you would never cross his mind.

          • jscro

            Like my old boss who used to brag about how he’d never a hire a n*gger when our guy who worked outside cleaning tried to apply to work inside our office. Or my boss after that who fired the gay guy because he showed up to a company function with his significant other. They should have just made themselves more useful to those bosses! Silly minorities!

          • mbbba

            Most view a ‘minority’ as a person that has come from generations of racial or cultural oppression. Most that are seeking protection, do not need any kind of protection. You can be a bad worker and believe that someone fired you just because of your race, gender, etc., when it could very well be your attitude, work ethic…etc. If they hired you, their expectations are that you are a good match for their company, organization, etc. and you will fulfill that role according to their expectations. If you do not meet these expectations in any way, they have a right to fire you.

          • johnschuh

            What about the university departments who make it clear that they will never hire a new faculty member whose published views are not in line with the prevailing views of the others in the department? The difference between today’s liberals and those at, say, UT, in the ‘50s, is that those liberals respected men of ability, whatever their views.

          • jscro

            I work for a major University, and I haven’t heard of such a thing happening. It wouldn’t surprise me though, as pretty much everything in society is so heavily politicized now.

            I’m not sure what exactly it has to do with the current discussion, but it’s a terrible precedent if things like that are happening.

          • johnschuh

            Well, ask around and see which party faculty members support.

          • jscro

            You said university departments “have made it clear”. Why would I need to ask around if they’ve made it clear?

          • johnschuh

            Basically you have to listen to what they say. If they drop us the term “track radio,”prejoratively.” that would be a clue. Alternative talk to their students.

          • sequiturchallenger

            What if Santa Claus ate little children? I have as much proof as you do. Your pained arguments are bush league.

          • don76550

            Not exactly correct. Texas is an at will state which means you can be fired for no reason.

          • Texpat

            Incorrect. I would get sued in a heartbeat for religious discrimination which is federally protected.

          • don76550

            Actually the biggest proponent of religious discrimination IS the federal government

          • johnschuh

            But harder for you to lose. Try to prove you got fired because you posted a religious picture in your cubicle? The courts have so cheapened the rules of standing in religious cases, that a co-worker can claim to have been offended if he stepped in side your cubicle and been offended by what he had to search to find. That coach who got suspended for praying did not get in trouble until some supporter from the other team complained to his school.

          • johnschuh

            There is pretty much the same elsewhere. If people want to get rid of you, there is always something they can use against you.

          • Luke Taylor

            In most states, at will means you can fire for any reason except for matters of race, religion, physical disability, gender. Sexual Orientation is not included .

          • migtex1234

            good, just keep your home life to yourself,
            I wish everyone would keep their personal life quiet.
            No one wants to know either way.

          • Texpat

            What you mean is that gays should keep quiet of who they are. Every time a straight person puts up a picture of their spouse they are proclaiming I am straight. You have a problem with that?

          • mbbba

            First of all, not everyone sees homosexuality the same way. There are still many that view the acts themselves as not a part of God’s will or simply do not see it in the same view as others do. Some do not label people or consider them minorities according to their sexuality or sexual preferences. You can love others and still not agree with how they live their lives. You can also choose to not want that lifestyle imposed upon you. That does not make you one that hates others.

          • Texpat

            It’s amazing to me that you are unable to see the hypocrisy in your reply. Many people, gay and straight, do not think that is appropriate to have religious people impose upon them their views. They simply want to live as they see fit yet the religious believe that they have the right to set the standard for society. You are one of those people. You are a hypocrite. You believe it’s OK to judge others for who they are yet you don’t think there’s anything wrong with imposing your views but crying foul when others say that that’s not your right. And when someone is living by the way they feel fit yet by the way you interpret religion as being wrong you think that it’s OK to be able to discriminate against them. And then you’re probably one of these religious people who seems to think somehow Christians are the minority who are being abused

          • johnschuh

            You certainly think you have the right to set standards for society. You have just said that. You don’t want toleration; you demand approval.

          • Texpat

            For the first time you are exactly right. I don’t demand tolerance. I do demand acceptance. It is not the right of anyone to express disapproval about my life or anyone else’s and think their ” tolerance” is all they can offer and that should be acceptable to me. I understand that not all bigots will be able to do that because they just don’t have the right level of intellectual understanding to rise to the occasion, and therefore I have every right to disapprove of their narrowmindedness

          • johnschuh

            It may not be a right, but they ought to be at liberty to do so in a civil manner. Who are you that your life or life style ought to be above criticism? You certainly don’t hold back.

          • johnschuh

            No, they are proclaiming they are married to a woman. That says nothing about WHO they are. They have a picture of a girl-friend/boy-friend inside of a drawer in their desk.

        • Texpat

          You are wrong. I could not fire a Christian who was performing his job simply for his religious beliefs. I could, however fire someone who is gay for not liking his kind.

          • LarryECollins

            As I said before I’ve worked in multi-national corporate HR for 20 years. I’ve coached managers on how to fire people. I’ve even fired people and had others watch as training. No one is EVER required to give a REASON for termination and doing so is to invite a lawsuit of some kind. Never lie. Never explain. Never apologize.

          • Texpat

            That’s interesting. I also work in HR at a very large multinational company and have done so for an excess of 20 years. We always document why someone is being let go. It is absolute standard practice. But our organizations are not where this happens generally. Sure in our business we had lesbian and gay employees be tormented on the job enough that they quit but we would never as a corporation endorse the termination of their employment But stop and think Larry, do you think Bob’s gun shop or Paulas donuts or S and K tire and auto repair are really going to follow global edicts about inclusion and nondiscrimination. No they’re not and when they fire a gay employee It will be plain and simple why they’re doing it. If you work in HR and are still naïve enough to believe that this doesn’t happen then I’m sorry for you.

          • mbbba

            So they hired the person, and then fired them because?…..do they state that the reason is because of sexuality? Really? Most people may come to that conclusion just because it supports their agenda. How do you know that this person turned out to not be a good fit for a company?… did not have good work ethics? was not personable? etc. There are so many reasons for a person to get fired or let go and sometimes we just can not assume…especially when the person was hired in good faith in the first place.

          • johnschuh

            But how far do you want to limit freedom of association? Say, years ago, the only Jew in the office is fired because he was different enough that he did not fits in? Not great? But do you really make things better by using he law to club people over the head? People dislike people for a million different reasons.

          • Luke Taylor

            Thanks for sharing that. I worked as a manager at two different Fortune 500 companies and we always had to leave a paper trail of why someone’s performance was in question.

        • Texpat

          Knowing now as I do that your global HR professional I’m surprised that you don’t understand what right to work state means. It’s sort of throws your credibility into a bit of a dark place

          • LarryECollins

            I know the technical definition of the term. I also know that among HR professionals Texas is known as a “right to hire, right to fire” state.
            I not only know HR law, I also know grammar, spelling, and punctuation. All of which I see allude you. It rather throws taking you seriously under a cloud of suspicion. Have you graduated from college?
            You might want to have me proofread your resume. I suspect you’re looking for a job.

          • Texpat

            Oh the challenges of using talk to text on a cell phone. It is funny that with all your supposed HR wisdom, you have yet to hit the correct term. I’m just going to have to give it to you. Texas is an “Employment at Will” state. This means you are not obligated as an employee or an employer to a fixed term of employment. It doesn’t however supersede the EEOC protections. Any large company knows this. It will rate or rank employee performance.to have a basis for dismissal. If the act which requires an employee to be terminated is singular but critical, that will also be documented. Documentation is one of the things really driven home when you choose to get your PHR. Perhaps you should consider it..

          • LarryECollins

            Nothing I have said differs from what you have said. You are playing semantics. Thanks for playing. This game is over.

          • Texpat

            Excellent. I am glad to hear that you feel that employment protections are necessary for gay and lesbian employees.

          • LarryECollins

            NO. I certainly never said or even implied my support of a change in the law. I am not the least bit interested in creating yet another protected class of citizens. Most employers already live in constant fear of an investigation by a hyperactive EEOC

          • mbbba

            As a minority, I agree with your statement. We are going too far in this country trying to ‘protect’ everyone from everything, especially when it is not necessary.

          • Luke Taylor

            How shameful that you are an HR manager. I pity the harassed gay employee that comes to you looking for advice.

          • johnschuh

            Begging the question: ought the EEOC to have such authority? Are minorities better serves as individuals, or even as a group, by appealing to authority every time they are slighted?

          • TrulyJulie

            “All of which I see (*elude*) you.”

            Oh, the irony.

      • Frank Seager

        J, gays have the same rights in the workplace and housing as heterosexuals. The article you cited does not list one heterosexual right that homosexuals don’t already have.

        • Amy Patrick

          Frank, here’s the deal.

          Nobody is firing heterosexuals because they’re heterosexuals. Nobody is denying housing to heterosexuals because they’re heterosexuals. They are denying these rights to homosexuals. That’s what discrimination protections are about. That’s the whole point of having discrimination protections.

          • Frank Seager

            1. There is no evidence for your claim that “Nobody is firing heterosexuals because they’re heterosexuals”. In fact if you google the term “fired for being straight”, you will find that your claim is false.
            2. There is no evidence that homosexuals are at any kind of an economic disadvantage. In fact, most polls show that they do as well, OR BETTER, than heterosexuals in income and standard of living.
            3. In any event the issue I raised was whether heterosexuals have any RIGHTS that homosexuals do not also have. Your handwaving unsubstantiated claims do not change the fact that the answer is no. There is not one right that heterosexuals have that homosexuals do not also have. The premise upon which this so-called “equal rights ordinance” is based is a scam. We already have equal rights under the law.

          • Amy Patrick

            And yet, an alarmingly high quotient of homeless teenagers are gay. I’d also say it’s highly likely that the reason that homosexuals are shown to be at an economic advantage in terms of standard of living is that the higher up the socioeconomic ladder you climb, the more socially acceptable it is to be gay. So I’d say that if you talk to sociologists, they would probably corroborate that we’re missing a crap-ton of data because a lot of people living in poverty won’t come out of the closet. And this is exactly why we need these protections.

            People are absolutely persecuted for being members of any number of disadvantaged populations, and they DO have equal rights to opportunities, and this PREVENTS those rights from being discarded or eroded. It gives consequences against those who erode rights of a certain group of people.

            Whether or not you think it’s right or not, to protect the rights of disadvantaged groups simply because they’re disadvantaged, that’s fine, that’s your prerogative. But the fact of the matter stands that it’s harmful to business in the area for us to not have these protections in place. And the fact of the matter also is that there is very, very strong precedent for these sorts of protections.

            (And while I admit that I don’t have the data handy at the moment to prove my point to you, Googling and finding links for “fired for being straight” is hardly scientific proof of anything.)

          • Frank Seager

            “And yet, an alarmingly high quotient of homeless teenagers are gay. I’d also say it’s highly likely that the reason that homosexuals are shown to be at an economic advantage in terms of standard of living is that the higher up the socioeconomic ladder you climb, the more socially acceptable it is to
            be gay. “

            You can speculate all you want about why surveys show gays do as well if not better than heterosexuals. But idle speculation is no justification for passing a law that imposes restrictions on free choice. Personal liberty and free choice can only be restricted when there is a compelling government reason for doing so. Idle speculation does not constitute a compelling government reason.

            There is no evidence that homosexuals are economically disadvantaged compared to heterosexuals And they already get every right that heterosexuals get. Every single one.
            This so-called “equal rights ordinance” is based on the very false dogma that heterosexuals have some rights that homosexuals do not.

          • jscro

            I’ve seen folks being fired for being gay. I’ve seen folks not hired for being black. I’ve seen a black guy who was hired 2 weeks prior get fired because all of the computers were stolen in the office after he started work. In all my years as a middle class straight white dude, I’ve never seen any acts against me for being such. I’ve never seen any acts against anyone else of my ilk either.

            I get the argument against no more laws on the books for things that should be common sense, I really do. You can only legislate so much, and legislating human behavior is rarely a good idea. If you’re working for an asshole, maybe it’s better you don’t anymore. You can’t just not recognize this is an issue though.

          • Disgusted

            Frank Seager…if your claim is true and people are being fired for being hetrosexual, then you should want tthis bill passed, because it will also protect Hetrosexuals. This bill is inclusive and gives equal rights to ALL!!!

          • Andrew Armstrong

            Homosexuals are 3.8% of the entire US population, yet make 100% of the problems for the heterosexuals. You are the one looking for some kind of handout, sorry it’s not going to happen. HERO will go down in flames.

          • Amy Patrick

            So what part of Crazytown are you from, did you say…?

          • migtex1234

            yes, most folks are just sick of being harassed by the gay Nazi’s. Most do not care but stop talking about it. Gag.

          • LB0225

            Hey stupid The Nazis put homosexuals in concentration camps. But I understand you are frightened…hundreds of gays are on the way to your house to harass you right now.

          • LB0225

            Your problem is your intolerance.

          • Luke Taylor

            So that means the supposed 96% of the population that is straight has the right to
            gay bash and discriminate?? BTW – the gay population in the US is closer to 9%

          • mbbba

            What stops a person from believing because they did not get a house, a job, a promotion from stating that ‘it was because I am homosexual’? There has to be common sense to these ‘protections’. The denial may just be because they do not want ‘you’ for the job, in the house, etc. They may have just chosen someone else that they think better fits the position…etc. Where would the claim of discrimination end?

          • Disgusted

            I worked for a company that had an AP manager that was gay. He did his job well. It was rumoured that this guy was gay, but he never confirmed. I HEARD the controller say that he didn’t want to know if the guy was gay, because he would have to fire him then because of his religious beliefs. You CAN”T tell me gay people don’t get fired for being gay!!!

  • Burntfox Burnt

    There was a whole lot of bashing anyone that does not support this bill but not a single explanation as to what the bill is about.

    Anyone stop to think people are sick and tired of the played out “you have to pass the bill to find out how it will work” explanation.

    Also let’s not forget that Houston is experiencing extreme budget shortfalls. So much so that Denise Parker feels it is her right to take money from the Houston Firefighters pension to use at her discretion. Sorry, not the most trustworthy of people there is. This bill and Denise parker also have tried unsuccessfully before to edit any pastors sermon. On grounds of editeing out hate speech. Where was that pesky church and state thing then?

    This article makes more questions and makes the issue more divisive without explaining the point of the bill.

    • TrulyJulie

      *Annise Parker

  • Harry Parker

    If HERO fails, then what’s to become of George R Brown? There aren’t enough bible thumper conventions to keep it open. What other group would decide to come to Houston when every other major city protects LGBT rights and they all have convention facilities? If HERO fails there will be a serious BOYCOTT HOUSTON movement and with all major corporations in support of LGBT rights, the boycott should have a serious impact on Houston’s economy. With all the layoffs in the oil industry, Houston does not need any more lost jobs.

    • Josh McIntosh

      That is exactly right. The conventions will go to the over 200 cities with equal rights laws and we will be left with the empty hotel rooms in an overbuilt hotel market here.

      • migtex1234

        good

    • Andrew Armstrong

      3.8% of the US population is LGBT, roughly 80% of the US population DON’T GIVE A SH!T, the other 16.2% are LGBT’s support base. So we are all supposed to turn on our heads to better accommodate you and your kind? I don’t think so.

      • Johnny Ralph Horstman

        “Your kind”? That phrase reveals everything. You don’t believe these things out of good faith, you believe them out of malice.

        • migtex1234

          who cares

      • LB0225

        Your kind? I think we should accommodate them. We accommodate ignorant ranting baboons of low intelligence.

      • Luke Taylor

        Andrew, babe: If you had a clue, you would know that in most major cities, 74-85% of the population supports gay rights and gay marriage.Houston is less but still came in at 64% of the residents being pro-gay, So, yes there are A LOT of gay allies out there who will help the gay community move forward.

        To use that term “Your Kind” is so insulting although I bet its better than “Your Kind” which is ignorant redneck!!

    • johnschuh

      Yes, Sir, Mr. Samson, pull the temple down. Have a fit every time you lose an election.

  • Zelda Rose

    This is not just about employment. It’s about housing. It’s about basic human rights. It’s about the daily hatred heaped upon the LGBT community by men and women who have an agenda that says anything that is different is evil, and deserves to be dehumanized and marginalized into nonexistence.

    • tipofthespear65

      you already have all that. trying to get yourself up on a pedestal to “protected class” is a joke. this hatred you speak of is nothing but noise to gain what you want…much like black lives matter its an exercise in stupidity.

      You know, there was a lot more tolerance for the lifestyle choice before you started making demands and trying to get more attention to yourself. before that, no one gave a crap about your lifestyle choice. By putting it in peoples faces all you’re doing is showing your true faces….

      • Zelda Rose

        Know what it means when a Southern lady says, “Bless your heart?” Bless your heart.

        • tipofthespear65

          aww, thanks sweetie! I appreciate that.

      • Luke Taylor

        stop putting your f-ing bible in my face. Also, its not a lifestyle – that implies choice. Its a life, idiot

  • Bethany Brandon

    No need to be so dire… Houston remains the very cool city you love. The real objections to HERO (based on what I’ve read and seen) seems to be the wording. The INTENTION is valid and no one objects to that.

    • Kelli Lines

      I don’t think the intention of Ed Young is to find wording of an equal rights ordinance that pleases him. It’s to stamp out Gay and Transgender people from existence. It’s pretty clear to me that the only thing that matters is his interpretation of the Word of God. Anyone from the religious right probably feels this is a moral issue. They certainly cannot justify fears of transgender women causing any disturbance in the restroom. They just feel transgender women are disturbed…period. And that is religious bigotry.

      There may be a pocket of people that have good intentions and disliked the wording of HERO, but I really don’t think the majority of the opposition want ANY equal rights for LGBT people.

      • drbarryrev

        Don’t you mean LGBTXYZ people? Because who knows what sexual deviancy they will come up with next!

        • Kelli Lines

          could say the same about the shameful “bathroom bill” lies.

    • TrulyJulie

      Agreed, Bethany. All that is necessary is to tweak the wording in a minor way so that it excludes restrooms and locker rooms, as the city of Fort Worth did before passing theirs.

  • Indiana Pearl

    Went to a unisex restroom yesterday in southern Indiana . . . this is a non-issue in most parts of the country.

    • Bryan Ford

      There are family bathrooms all over Texas that anyone… Anyone can use.

  • LiberTea

    1. Bathroom Ordinance. Right now any person wearing culturally feminine attire who uses a ladies room in a closed stall and draws no attention to himself would cause no problem. To create a ‘right’ to be known as a transexual in a ladies room is ludicrous.
    2. If HERO passes, no one could have a Hire-A-Vet program, since that would discriminate against an applicant who is a civilian with military status of ‘never served.’
    3. HERO protects the 4000 Houstonians who may in their life apply for transexualization surgery, but not the 3 million women who might be breastfeeding sometime in their lives.
    4. Human rights inhere in individuals because they are human, not in classes of human. Creating privileged classes IS discrimination.

    • Kelli Lines

      You had me at 1, but i am scratching my head on 2-4. I believe that fitting in and not causing a disturbance is the best course of action regardless of your genitalia or chromosomes. So if you are a bald headed looking dude with a full beard and a flannel shirt, but have XX chromosomes, use the mens’ room.

      • TrulyJulie

        If HERO passes, it would be illegal to hire a vet as part of a special program to show them favor over and above any other qualified candidate. Houston Mayoral candidate Bill King has brought up this point in some of the mayoral debates.

        • LB0225

          My god you are so dumb. HERO says nothing about discriminating against vets. Really TrulyJulie? What a name.

          • The*REAL*TrulyJulie

            Ad hominem right on cue.

          • Jed

            you still have not addressed the question. what part of the HERO text did what you keep claiming (here and elsewhere)? how would HERO have undone, for example, affirmative action?

            specific textual language, please, or we will be forced to conclude once and for all that you are talking out your a**.

          • The*REAL*TrulyJulie

            I never claimed HERO would undo affirmative action, but I answered your other question. You didn’t like my answer, and that’s not my problem.

          • Jed

            “I never claimed HERO would undo affirmative action,”

            “If HERO passes, it would be illegal to hire a vet as part of a special program to show them favor over and above any other qualified candidate.”

            who said these two things?

            a video link is not an answer.

            you don’t know the answer is the answer.

    • johnschuh

      Reagardintg #4, but of course, the downside of the Civil Rights Act was that it created protected classes.

  • Falken

    You know, if fighting against HERO were so noble, there wouldn’t be a need for scare tactics or “exaggerations” – I’d call them lies but that will hurt someone’s feelings – about all the “wrong” that will go on.

    First and foremost, if you’re a minority of any sort, voting against HERO is far from your interests. As it stands, it’s often left to whatever methods the entity – business or organization – has to investigate claims of discrimination. For example, this means the cops have to rely on Internal Affairs and often other groups already pro-police to investigate any claim of discrimination. Under HERO, the city investigates independently. Also, “Right to Work” does include methods of inhibiting unionization but does not override Equal Opportunity Employment, meaning that if you are apart of a federally protected group you cannot be fired for reasons pertaining to membership within one of those groups. You can be fired for incompetence, insubordination, downsizing, but generally a company has to give reason so they can avoid a lawsuit. It is perfectly legal to fire someone for being LGBT, as that is not a federally protected class. Most things regarding employment also can be applied to the housing market. So yes, you can be denied housing or removed from housing for being LGBT.

    Secondly, the “Bathroom Ordinance” part is pretty limited. It applies to transgender individuals, not someone who just “feels like a woman” one day – which is incredibly insulting to anyone who is transgender to begin with. There are already transgender individuals who do use the bathroom of their gender, often able to slip by because they make a strong attempt to be passable. In actuality, forcing them to use their birth gender’s bathroom can lead to them experiencing problems, like the ones people claim they’re trying to prevent by voting against this bill.

    Finally, does no one care about the economics of our city? Those who are prepared to vote against, you do realize this will give us a huge black mark for conventions. No convention with a diverse group, who is accepting of that diverse group, will really aim for a city without these protections. We’re also immediately going to be out of the running for other things. World Series? Nope. Superbowl? Nope. Olympics? Nope. Unfortunately, all the groups that would be okay with the travesty of voting “No”, are not in substantial enough numbers, nor do any hold an exclusive contract with Houston to bring in the numbers. It will also create an image problem which could in turn affect tourism. Then let’s look at how this could affect us locally. We have one of the few major cities without this protection, which may provoke some people, some of our best and brightest to either: not come to Houston even for the various universities we have; or leave Houston even leaving our universities.

    If this measure were truly unnecessary, it wouldn’t have been repealed to be voted on. If it were truly unnecessary, there wouldn’t be as much vitriol against it being a ballot issue as there is. The fact so many people are doing whatever they can to prevent it from passing, creates the image that they are against the people it would protect – additionally not solely at that – and hence creates the reason for why it is needed.

    • LiberTea

      Your last paragraph doesn’t compute for me.
      I have nothing against LBGTHZ people, or people of any race, religion, or military status.
      I just dislike institutionalizing special rights for special groups over other groups.
      With the history of gay marriage approval and the backlash against bakers, the possibility of REVERSE discrimination by militant protected classes is very real.

      • Falken

        You’ve already shown why you can’t compute it. It’s not “special” rights and we’re not a “special” group. This isn’t giving one segment rights that for all rights and purposes, every single other group also have. We’re a group who currently have zero protection from being fired, denied housing, and – unfortunately as the whispers go – have a chance of being denied healthcare. I’m mostly sure that last one won’t happen in Houston, but the other two have happened in Houston before. In Houston, a same gendered couple can get married on Monday. Legally, they can both be fired from their jobs Tuesday. Legally, they can be denied housing or even evicted Wednesday.

        There wasn’t any real backlash the bakers didn’t ask for. It wasn’t so much they refused the cake, it was when they found out about the complaint the fact they published the contact information of the couple. Tell me, does any member, of any faith have a right to get a couple subjected to such abuse? Do they, and their child, deserve threats on their lives?

      • Kelli Lines

        This is a standard oppressor becomes the oppressed argument. There wouldn’t be a need for protections if everyone in the majority treated minorities equally.

        • LiberTea

          Truth is, everyone is in a minority.

        • Andrew Armstrong

          Majority rule comes with majority.

          • Amy Patrick

            Not according to the Constitution.

          • Kelli Lines

            Rule comes with responsibility

      • Zelda Rose

        When someone says “I have nothing against . . .”, that’s supposed to justify the bigoted statement they are about to make.

    • johnschuh

      Do we endlessly multiply protected classes of persons until we have listed every conceivable one?

      • Falken

        That’s a pretty weak argument to be honest. And precisely how many classes are there? How many other groups face a level of persecution for something they don’t choose? Religion’s protected, yet everyone has far more choice of what religion they choose – or don’t – than who they love.

  • Jameika

    Why are churches tax exempt if they get into politics like that?
    Why do we as a society allow this subsidy of churches who are not involved in Christian charity that make that subsidy beneficial to us? If you’re going to get involved in secular politics, pay your taxes like the rest of us!

    • Andrew Armstrong

      Majority rule. 75% of the US population is Christian faith-based. Atheist in this country is around .95%. So if the 3.8% who are gay, join up with the .95% who are atheist, well then maybe you can get something done.

      • Jameika

        That’s ridiculous. I think you’re missing the protecting minority voices part. Why do you think every state, for example, has two senators?
        Besides, I get freedom from your mythology. This is not a theocracy. And this ordinance is decidedly not about religion ruling other people.
        I’d also point out that Houston doesn’t have the same demography as the US as a whole, so even if what you’re saying had any validity, it’d still not be a relevant comparison.

        • johnschuh

          Each state has two senators because in 1787, a senate of just 12 members was thought to be too small.

          • Jameika

            That wasn’t the point, though. I was using that example because it’s easy to see that having only representation that is proportional to population (the House) would have the power in population centers only. That is why certain powers (federal judge appointments..I’m working from memory…I think that was one of them) were moved from the executive branch to the Senate so that states could have equal representation. That’s neither here nor there, though, as the point was that protecting minority voices while supporting majority rule is one of the tenets of the modern American idea of itself. Therefore: even if a majority of the country (or Houston, since that is what this was meant to really be about) were a specific religion, the rights of those who don’t subscribe to it (freedom of religion), don’t have to follow what the majority thinks they should do.

          • johnschuh

            The Constitution prohibits any institutional bond between the central government and any Church. It provides for the sharing of power between that government and the several states. Part of that, however, guarantees the existence of domestic institutions such as servitude and State supported churches. It assumes the continued existence of the English common law, its underlying suppositions and its forms, including the Christian moral code. What the Gay rights movement is trying to do is to reestablish that foundation by one based on utility. Basically what gives pleasure to the greatest number and pain to as few as possible. This is a process that has been going on since the French Revolution and rejects the natural basis of the Christian code.

          • Jameika

            Did you mean ‘state-supported churches’?
            I’m sure the constitution assumed a lot of things. It would be ridiculous to assume that any group of people would be able to create a code of laws that would be eternally applicable. That’s why it must change with the rest of us. I’m sure whichever ‘Christian moral code’ you’re referring to has changed as well. Neither religions nor cultures are static.
            The gay rights movement is not trying to reestablish any foundation of anything. Just as human societies have changed to incorporate our ever-changing assumptions about love and human relationships, the gay rights movement is pushing for people within one form of human relationship to be a recognized part of the norm, just as we see partnering rather than polygamy as the norm. That, of course, could change over time. None of this is a foundation: it’s just a blip in human history.

      • Texpat

        The Constitution specifically states that the rights of the minority are to be protected from the majority. I bet you are one of those guys who talks about the Constitution but has probably never read it.

    • TrulyJulie

      Jameika, you apparently don’t understand IRS code. It specifically states:

      Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) ANY CANDIDATE for elective public office. Certain voter education activities (including presenting public forums and publishing voter education guides) conducted in a non-partisan manner do not constitute prohibited political campaign activity. (Emphasis mine; source: IRS.Gov)

      That means tax-exempt organizations are allowed to educate the public, but not to express support or disapproval of any candidate while they are running for office.

      • Jameika

        I’m not questioning what the code is (although thanks for doing the research and making it clear: I do know that and I also know that churches often violate it, but that’t neither here nor there).

        I’m expressing my dismay that we, as a society, allow ostensibly religious organizations to be tax exempt when they are actively involving themselves in the politics and policies of the general public and not their own congregations. That seems very wrong and un-American to me.

        • johnschuh

          Why shouldn’t churches be allowed to try to influence pubiic opinion? Other tax free organizations certainly do.

          • Jameika

            They certainly do. Labor unions are a good example. It all gets fuzzy in there, though. The code is confusing, but there are restrictions on what religious organizations, for example, can do in the realm of politics and they are rarely cited for it. They are not allowed to support a specific candidate, but they do. I think this is complicated, but it all goes back to society’s role in enabling a specific group of people to work toward the greater good in order to get the tax exemption (we shouldn’t be taxing charities or other groups that can show that they provide services to the broader public). I am taking issue with whether, in this case, lying to your congregation about a law in order to influence politics is really part of a “greater good”. Or, perhaps more sinisterly, telling your congregation that if they give their money to you, god will solve their medical or financial problems. I would argue that that’s not in anyone’s best interest except for the leaders of the organization.

    • johnschuh

      The only reason why churches who get involved in politics might not be declared tax exempt is because that is in the IRS code. And it is in the code because of a law that Lyndon Johnson pushed through Congress back in the ‘50s. The whole civil rights movement was run out of the black and liberal white churches. It was black churches who led the charge against this new push by gays against traditional sexual morality. The same black churches are also big supporters of Democratic candidates. The Clintons are preaching the Democratic gospel from black pulpits all the time and no one says a word.

      • Jameika

        Actually, as I’ve said, churches do have restrictions on supporting candidates. I don’t think they should be able to outwardly support campaigns. There’s a difference, though, in letting a person use a church for his or her campaign and having your preacher tell you how to vote. Of course, allowing a candidate speak in a church is tacit approval at least. It’s vague in there, isn’t it. Churches can preach from a kind of moral authority, but they also serve as community spaces. I honestly don’t know where to draw that line, but I think it should be something we can talk about openly instead of just always deferring to religious leaders as if they can do no wrong.

  • Andrew Armstrong

    HERO=ZERO. Want gay pride? Move back to California.

    • Texpat

      By god you’re a dimwit. It doesn’t really make any sense trying to reason with you because all you do is spout back nonsense. Perhaps, you should move back under that rock from which you crawled.

    • Johnny Ralph Horstman

      Gays live in every city in every state and gays are never going to suddenly disappear so clearly you need to learn to live with that.

  • Christian Pelham

    Say no to the assturd crowd of Houstonians – the gay haters, the religious extremist nasty cristians crowd, their brsinwashed flock of dumb, rhe valueless Texas Values nuts, and the creeps who write the Texas GOP platforms. GO VOTE YES TODAY.

  • Ogie Wilson

    Good reminder of why Mimi is sometimes referred to as ‘Fifi.’ Arf, arf!

  • oblate spheroid

    The bathroom panic strategy would be hilarious if it weren’t so effective. Says quite a bit that so many people are swayed by it.

    • Jed

      turns out annexing half the piney woods and paving halfway to san antonio comes with a downside.

      more hick and suburban voters.

    • johnschuh

      The panic arose because some people are making what most think are unreasonable demands.

  • don76550

    What the reaction says is that there actually are some citizens living in Houston that are not pro pervert moral invalids.

  • migtex1234

    Houston has become an embarrassment due to the total madness of Mayor. Why was she elected? Has done more harm than anyone in past 30 years.
    She is a real sick puppy.

  • tipofthespear65

    Backwardness and bigotry, huh?

    You mean the majority who don’t agree with an abnormal lifestyle choice? Are insults all you have in amswer?

    • Jed

      the 14th amendment was written to protect minorities from majorities who won’t like lifestyles choices the minorities are making: like being black, or disabled, or female, or gay.

      now you’re going to have to go to the SCOTUS over this. for a bunch of people who don’t like the government, you’ve sure stepped in it. why do you hate the constitution?

      there. i made an argument that didn’t rely on calling you a homophobe.

      • tipofthespear65

        A phobia relates to fear…I don’t fear homosexuals, I pity them. As to the 14th Amendment, you can twist it any way you wish (the Court certainly did) including letting a brother and sister marry. You cant legislate to people on what you wish the meaning of something is and because you have crackpot justices vote your way means as much as a cup of piss in the realm of right and wrong. It was written to protect recently freed slaves, not homosexuals..

        Sorry, but you’re wrong and it took a court making law (not interpreting) to get you where you wanted to go. Most of us will still not accept the lifestyle choice, although I am glad to see you admit that it is. Someday, when a decision goes against what you want, be sure to remember that the 14th Amendment allows all things now…

        • Jed

          so you admit the court agrees with me, and we’re all wrong? i think found your problem:

          “because you have crackpot justices vote your way means as much as a cup of piss in the realm of right and wrong”

          you are arguing about the wrong thing. whether something is constitutional or not has very little to do with what your religion tells you about right and wrong. that is, in fact, the whole point of the constitution.

          so, you need to choose one. you are welcome to prefer your morality to the constitution, you just need to do it someplace else.

          • johnschuh

            Five justices voted with you including one who during her confirmation hearing said she did not think that gay marriage was a constitution right. Just as Obama lied about his true opinion, so did the lady justice.

          • Jed

            truth value aside, what’s your point?

            why do you hate the constitution?

          • tipofthespear65

            wait…why am i bothering with you? look at how this vote turned out…there’s your answer to this fantasy of yours that the Constitution gives some sort of right for 9 lawyers to change thousands of years of settled cultural norms…

          • tipofthespear65

            you see below? “truth value aside”? hahaha

            I know its 100 degrees, but lets talk about how cold it is…..not worth the effort.

          • Jed

            i meant, rather than spend time showing that what you say is incorrect, the point would stand even if it were.

            which it does.

            recommended reading: anything not written by a medieval monk.

          • tipofthespear65

            I meant….I meant…haha. You’ve given me much enjoyment with your online sputtering.

          • tipofthespear65

            haha…you can define what I said any way you need to, I don’t care. I think deep down, assuming you are not just an automaton for the Left, you know what I am saying. Its an invalid ruling on so many levels but that doesn’t matter to you. My point is one day when it goes against you, I assume you will whine about it. The difference is I would fight an invalid ruling even if it DID go my way. SCOTUS cant make law, that’s truth. Justices who by all rights and sanity should have recused themselves but didn’t because of ideology is also truth. If it were truly a legit ruling there should have been an amendment and the people decide but that wouldn’t work because you know it would get destroyed in the vote. That’s why you had to go to the federal bench after the people shot down this lifestyle choice as just that…a lifestyle choice. And tying it to another amendment for people to argue is weak and paper thin. By the same thinking from the magical 14th that the justices bastardized, I should be able to marry my sister….but that was point wasn’t it?

            I am arguing the right thing, you just dont want to hear. Sorry about your luck on that.

            Good day to you

          • Jed

            you don’t understand the constitution.

            at all.

            the irony of all this is that it will eventually wind up in front of the very judges you don’t think should be involved.

          • tipofthespear65

            Don’t want it in front of a judge sparky…are you having trouble reading what I am writing? haha…just give up son…or, look below. It appears others are able to comprehend the difference. Oh, and the mass majority that voted this absurd lifestyle choice out in their states…they seem to get it too…its OK, though, I’ve being patient with you.

      • johnschuh

        The 14the Amendment was written to guarantee that the states grant the full rights of citizenship to blacks, to in effect overturn the Dred Scot decision. But it did not give women such rights. That was left to the political process.

        • Jed

          if that’s all the 14th was meant to do, it would have bee simple enough to say that.

          but they said something else, so we should probably start with what they said and not what they didn’t say, eh?

          why do you hate the founders?

  • LB0225

    I am greatly ashamed by my city and embarrassed by my city. Too many uneducated people believing the bathroom invasion crap when there is nothing in the HERO provision about bathrooms. Public places do not equal bathrooms. There is already a law that you cannot use the opposite sexes bathroom. HERO does not specify that this law will be overturned. But these people cannot seem to do any research or try to learn about the issue and then decide for themselves. No, they would rather be stupid and jump up and down and rant and rave about something they don’t anything about and a threat that doesn’t even exist. It is embarrassing. No wonder the rest of the country thinks that Texass are ignorant, mentally handicapped baboons.

    • sandflea

      “No wonder the rest of the country thinks that Texass are ignorant, mentally handicapped baboons.”
      Maybe that’s because a great many lack the ability to use proper grammar and spell correctly.

      • Jed

        aside from a missing “n,” what?

    • johnschuh

      Could it be that they keep hearing about odd occurrences where little boys demand the right to use girls bathrooms because they THINK they are little girls? They also notice that this mayor is a fanatic who wanted to censor what preachers said in their pulpits.

  • Samuel Wells

    How about if y’all gonna discriminate against the LGBT community, we DON’T HAVE TO PAY TAXES? Just like churches. I think that would be a much better solution…oh, throw in some diplomatic immunity as well, since the IRS won’t shut down churches that actively engage in politics which they’re not supposed to do.

  • Samuel Wells

    Too bad Houston. Money talks. I’ll be boycotting your awful city until you decide to get out of the Dark Ages…

  • sequiturchallenger

    I am calling for all employers to fire all Christians based on their deeply held beliefs and who they are. It looks to be perfectly legal now. Please hire only people who follow a strict Muslim doctrine. The people of Houston must agree that this is perfectly justifiable.

  • tipofthespear65

    Look at all the heterophobes on here whining…go to a mulsim bakery with your publicity stunts and then maybe I’ll listen to you.

  • Sarah

    I absolutely support a boycott of Houston. They should not host the ’17 Super Bowl and any advertisers should be boycotted as well. Progressive companies that support equal rights should really reconsider hosting events/travel/ business in Houston. As a former Houstonian and as someone who can trace her ancestry back to pre-Republic Texas, I am ashamed of my former home. This vote was nothing more than a thinly veiled backlash against the gains made a much maligned lgbt community. We all know that 82% of sexual assaults are from an acquaintance. Those poor debutantes should be more worried about who is watching the door, than who is in the stall next them. Just sad, I even told my son I’m even considering taking my T. Tech license plate holder off my car today I was so mad. It’s not just Houston, but the whole state’s reputation was besmirched by that vote.