In 2014–Equal Rights Are Finally Recognized in Houston, City Ordinance Passes

Civil Rights, News 0 42

In 2014, it is sad to say that the city of Houston had to pass an Equal Rights Ordinance. This law met much debate, including protests outside City Hall. One of the main issues with this law is that it included gay rights issues, not just addressing the major discrimination issue in the city, entertainment venues refusing to grant African American customers entry (especially in the Washington Avenue district).

Mayor Annise Parker’s inclusion of gay issues, drowned out the original need of this bill that many believed would focus on rights for minorities, Houston is 66% Black/Hispanic. The opponents of the ordinance sounded like they sniff glue every morning, calling Houston the new “Sodom and Gomorrah.” The ordinance hit a brick wall when verbiage allowing transgendered people to use a women’s restroom was singled-out and attacked by Christian conservatives, which was later deleted. Many believe their efforts were privately funded and backed by racists since the new ordinance focuses more on equal rights that will affect ethnic minorities and is not considered a gay law.

So….allowing people equal rights has something to do with what YOU believe in? And you should have a say in someone else’s civil rights? No Juan Kerr about what you want or believe in. 

Civil rights have nothing to do with what you are comfortable with. The ordinance, as with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which it mostly mirrored, includes discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, imposing fines of up to $5,000. Hopefully, this will be used to fine entertainment venue owners that still do not want people of color to patronize their business. This is addressed in Article IV of the new city ordinance, Prohibition against discrimination in public accommodations.

These owners clearly already overlooked Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.

This is a major win for the LGBT community since the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not cover sexual orientation. Congratulations to Mayor Parker and the Council for having the courage to take on the issues in this ordinance. It passed by an 11- 6 margin by the City Council.

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