HOUSTON – Today, the Houston Unites campaign launched to prevent the repeal of Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) on the November ballot. Houston is the most diverse city in the country, but is also the only city of its size in the country lacking an equal rights ordinance. HERO’s anti-discrimination protections extend to fifteen separate categories — including race, gender, gender identity, veteran status, disability, age and sexual orientation — and would provide Houstonians with a local recourse to discrimination complaints that is timely, effective and affordable.
Members of the Houston Unites coalition voiced their support for the ordinance and urged Houston voters to educate themselves on the protections for all citizens:
Dr. James M. Douglas, President NAACP Houston Branch: “The NAACP has and will always be focused on the elimination of discrimination against all people. As an organization, we have always been and will continue to be inclusive, not exclusive. HERO is not just about black, brown or red. HERO is also not just about male and female. Instead, HERO is about every one of us. Hopefully, we can continue to grow as a city by recognizing that we are all members of the human race and that the only way we can achieve our goal of becoming a great city is by accepting the rights of all of us to equally participate in this society we call Houston, Texas.”
Bobby Singh, Principal, Isani Consultants, L.P.: “If we fail to protect HERO in November, we’re sending a clear message to the rest of the country that we aren’t a business-friendly destination. That depending on who you are, we might not want to do business with you. And that’s wrong. Every person in our city deserves the chance to be successful and to live and work without fear of discrimination.”
Leslie Jackson, Minister at Cathedral of Hope Houston: “I know the stories of those who have faced discrimination because of who they are or whom they love. They are our neighbors, our coworkers, our friends and family members. I believe Jesus calls me and all Christians to treat them with dignity and respect and to oppose, with determination, the discrimination they have faced.”
Ann Elder, mother of a transgender child: “HERO is important to me because it will ensure my son, whom I am so proud of and love dearly, can grow up safe and sound. I know my boy has a bright future and so much to offer. HERO is about ensuring he and all children can reach their full potential.”
Sonia Corrales, Chief Program Officer, Houston Area Women’s Center: “As the Chief Program Officer of the Houston Area Women’s Center, the safety of women and children is my first priority. I’ve worked my entire career to protect women and to support those who have experienced violence. Sexual assault is a terrible crime that affects people in every community. It’s real; it’s scary; and it has absolutely nothing to do with our city’s equal rights ordinance.”
Rabbi Roy A. Walter, Rabbi Emeritus, Congregation Emanu El: “We are all God’s children, regardless of our religious beliefs, our race or ethnicity, our sex or age, our sexual orientation or gender identity. No one has a monopoly on God’s love. And we all have the right to live our lives free from discrimination.”
Houston Unites is the coalition working to elevate the diversity of voices supporting HERO. The leading coalition partners include: ACLU of Texas, Equality Texas, Freedom For All Americans, Human Rights Campaign, NAACP Houston Branch and Texas Freedom Network.