The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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HERO bill voter denial receives national attention

“No Men in Women’s Bathrooms” played role with rejection

The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), which prohibits discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation, as well as 13 other different classes from housing and employment discrimination, was rejected by voters last Tuesday.

While the Ordinance received support from President Obama and national gay rights and civil rights groups, it was rejected with a vote of 61 percent versus 39 percent.

The bill received opposition from many conservatives and religious leaders who claimed the ordinance had nothing to do with protecting citizens from discrimination.

Instead, the bill was all about pushing a gay agenda onto the city.

The ordinance was also designed to exempt religious institutions and organizations from compliance.

“No Men in Women’s Bathrooms” was a common slogan used to criticize the bill, claiming that it would allow access for possible predators to inflict harm on women in restrooms.

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, one of the key leaders opposing the ordinance, stated, “It’s just common sense and common decency. We don’t want men in women’s lady rooms.

It was about protecting our grandmoms and our mothers and our wives and our sisters and our daughters and our granddaughters.”

Senior Jenika Mitchell notes the importance of separating prejudiced points of view from liberation.  

“Regardless of people’s personal feelings, everyone should be free from discrimination,” she said.  “Personal option should not dictate someone else’s freedom.”

Annise Parker, Houston’s openly lesbian mayor, expressed her disappointment  towards the rejection of the ordinance.

While stating her views towards the campaign launched in opposition to the ordinance, she said, “This is a campaign of fear mongering and deliberate lies. This isn’t misinformation. This is a calculated campaign of lies designed to demonize a little understood minority.”

Senior Jessica Fejos believes that all humans should be able to feel safe, especially from any bigotry.

“Everyone deserves to be protected from discrimination,” she said.

Although one major focus of the bill was to end discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation, it would have also guaranteed protection from discrimination based on sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, religion, disability, pregnancy and genetic information, as well as family, marital or military status, which already have protection under federal law.

After the results of the vote, Mayor Parker is concerned about the future of Houston.

“Unfortunately, I fear that this will have stained Houston’s reputation as a tolerant, welcoming, global city,” she said.

 

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