This week a smear campaign conducted by the Religious Right including pastors worked to defeat an Equal Rights ordinance dubbed HERO for Houston Equal Rights Ordinance. This is what was proposed on the ballot for Houstonians to consider:
“Proposition 1: [Relating to the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance.] Are you in favor of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, Ord. No. 2014-530, which prohibits discrimination in city employment and city services, city contracts, public accommodations, private employment, and housing based on an individual’s sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, familial status, marital status, military status, religion, disability, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity, or pregnancy?”
Despite the fact that 56 percent of the discrimination reported in Houston is race based, Black Pastors also joined in a fear based campaign that the ordinance would allow men in women’s bathrooms.
The Campaign for Houston managed to unite religious voters including people of color against their own best interests. They rejoiced on their webpage at the defeat of HERO.
“We thank the Houston voters for standing up for common decency and common sense by defeating Houston’s Proposition 1,” said Dr. Hotze. “This is a great win for Houston and will provide encouragement to other individuals and organizations across the country who have been fighting similar ordinances. We pray that God will enable us to restore our nation to its Christian heritage, so that America can once again be a godly nation, a shining light in a dark world. Campaign for Houston will continue to vigilantly promote conservative values, including freedom of speech and religious liberty.”
Of course the religious freedom and speech that CFH is promoting is directed at protecting the rights of bigots to discriminate against people. Houston voters can be friendly to LGB people as they elected Lesbian Mayor Annise Parker, who had this to say about the lies spread about the ordinance. [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K5aHrxMsIZo[/youtube] However, phobia spread by pastors won the day against equality. Deanna Adams Board Member of Humanists of Houston expressed her dismay at Black pastors, who participated in the fear mongering:
Over fifty percent of the discrimination reported in Houston is race based, yet black pastors all over the city not only refused to endorse this ordinance, they actively campaigned against it. They actively campaigned against a piece of legislation that would have protected them and their congregations from discrimination, or at least given them a local ordinance to use in litigation. Let that sink in for a moment. These black pastors were so worried about transgender Houstonians using the restroom they encouraged their parishioners to shoot themselves in the foot. In the name of Jesus at that.
I have read some posts to the effect that more people should have voted, and that is very true especially during a non-presidential election year. Good progressive turnout could decide the day more easily. Of 2,000,000 possible voters a scant 160,000 people voted this down opposed by 100,000.
I have also seen the responses that voting should be a holiday. True as that is -many employers do offer paid leave to vote. Also, there was early voting on this that included a Saturday. To be sure, barring a disability, apathetic voter excuses are a factor here. However, election reforms aren’t going to address the myths that stop progressives from voting in Texas.
If you needed another reason Republicans and Democrats are not the same here it is: The program of disinformation was led by Republicans and opposed by Democrats.