Archive for July 14th, 2014

The Break

Tomorrow candidates will file their July 15 campaign contribution and expenditure reports and the pundits and spinners will then assess who has a chance and who doesn’t.

Everybody saw what the Chron E-Board said yesterday. Here it is again:

At a time when the Internet can bring the totality of human knowledge to your fingertips – not all of it fact-checked – websites like Snopes and Politifact have risen to a place of prominence for helping to separate rumor from reality. With all the hearsay and innuendo around Houston’s new nondiscrimination ordinance, it almost feels like City Hall could use its own Snopes.

On its face, there is nothing controversial in the NDO. One could even claim that it is rather conservative, in the sense that this policy has been tested elsewhere time and again. The ordinance prohibits discrimination on the basis of categories already covered by federal law. It also extends protections to gay and transgender residents, following nondiscrimination laws that other cities and states have had on the books for years.
Religious organizations and small businesses are exempted, and the maximum fine is $5,000.

But the rather staid nature of the nondiscrimination ordinance has not stopped opponents (mostly a few limited political and religious groups) from labeling it the “Sexual Predator Protection Act” and pursuing a ballot referendum to eliminate the new law.

The crux of this ad hominem invective is that opening the doors of civil society to transgender people – including restroom doors – will somehow also benefit criminals. This is an accusation based more in fear than fact.

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression. More than 160 cities and counties have passed their own individual laws, including Atlanta, Nashville and New Orleans. Dallas has had similar protections for a decade. Minnesota first prohibited discrimination against transgender folks in public accommodations more than 20 years ago. Even the Houston Independent School District added a transgender category to its nondiscrimination policy in 2011.

Houstonians have patiently studied these others’ experiences, and the results are overwhelmingly positive. A city of sex criminals run amok only exists in the perverse fantasies of those prone to moral panics, desperately yearning for evidence that their fears were rightly founded. That evidence simply does not exist beyond the anecdotal urban legend.

Just in case not everyone has visited one of those states or cities that already have a nondiscrimination ordinance, let us lay it out in simple terms: Business owners are free as ever to boot weirdos and criminals to the curb, whether they’re gay, straight or any other shade of humanity. They just need to have a reason that isn’t discriminatory.

The fact is that Houston was one of the few major cities that lacked these local protections, and now we don’t. Citizens can look to City Hall instead of the federal government to enforce equal rights. Support for this policy cuts across our community, uniting a broad spectrum of Houston including Log Cabin Republicans, the NAACP and business groups like the Greater Houston Partnership and the Houston Association of Realtors. It is a reminder that Houston is a city of business, and that in the 21st century nondiscrimination is a moneymaker. There is important symbolism in the fact that corporate boardrooms across the nation prohibit discrimination against the LGBT community, while Vladimir Putin spews homophobia from the Kremlin.

But neither business acumen nor the tyranny of factual evidence has dissuaded a few organizations from pursuing a local referendum to eliminate the new nondiscrimination ordinance.

We question the wisdom of settling civil rights issues at the ballot box – a topic that will be addressed in a later editorial. In the meantime, we encourage the ordinance’s opponents to open their ears – and their hearts. It was one thing when Houston lacked its own nondiscrimination ordinance. It will be something much crueler if today’s protections are snatched away.

Some folks sometimes get upset at Commentary when I post stuff GOPers send to me. I don’t know why? I am just letting folks know what the other side is thinking like this one in response to the E-Board I got yesterday:

The editors are careful not to mention the fact that that the black pastors are leading this push back to the Texas #1 Progressive Mayor’s agenda. There were 55,000 signatures collected in less than 30 days for a referendum to stop her (Parker is quoted that this is all about her). That fact alone should garner the attention of the entire community.

Yesterday, the Harris County Republican Party Executive Committee passed a resolution opposing the Mayor’s Ordinance 2014-0530. So the Mayor has united the black Ministers with the local Republican Party just before the November elections.

What an interesting unintended consequence.

We will see!

Target Field will host the MLB All Star Game tomorrow night. Which league has the most wins?

In other sports news the Rockets didn’t get better this past weekend and folks are saying that Andre Johnson will not report to camp on time.

The NL of course has 43 All Star Game wins and the AL 39 with two ties.

We are 40-56 at the break. We are better than we were at this point last year but we are still not good if you know what I mean.

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