The nation’s fourth largest city has rolled back civil rights in a campaign based on lies.
In last week’s elections, Houston, Texas overturned its antidiscrimination ordinance in a referendum. The law had prohibited discrimination based on fifteen protected categories. While thirteen of the fifteen were protected under federal law (sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, religion, disability, pregnancy, genetic information, family, marital or military status), two of them—gender identity and sexual orientation—are not.
But filing a federal lawsuit can be costly and time-consuming, so the idea of the Houston ordinance—and those like it in two hundred other American cities—was to provide a quicker, easier method of resolving bias claims at the city level.
LGBT discrimination is alive and well
Let’s be clear: federal law does not protect lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender Americans from discrimination. In all fifty states, thanks to a certain recent US Supreme Court ruling you may have heard about, same sex couples have the right to marry, but in many places they can still be fired from their jobs for being gay. Or transgender.
In my law firm, we represent many people in just this situation. I have several cases where my clients were harassed, bullied and/or terminated because they are gay. And this is in 2015, in Los Angeles. Thank goodness I can rely on state law in California to protect their rights. Texas, however, has no similar statewide law.
Transgender = child molester
“No Men in Women’s Bathrooms” was plastered in signs and on television and radio ads, setting up a moral panic that “men dressed as women,” a crude and incorrect description of transgender women, would lurk in bathrooms, poised to attack innocent girls. Watch and be appalled:
The truth is that transgender folks are far more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators. This is especially true for transgender people of color. And for the three months that Houston’s civil rights ordinance had been in effect, no bathroom menace had ever occurred.
In Fayetteville, Arkansas, reality TV’s Michelle Duggar recorded robocalls on a similar bathroom menace. Yet her own son, Josh Duggar, a cis (non-transgender) man, is an admitted sexual abuser of his own sisters, which the family is accused of covering up a decade ago. Heterosexual cis men in one’s own family are the predators responsible for the vast majority of molestation of girls.
Thanks to distortions and fear-mongering, discrimination is legal in Houston today.