HOUSTON, November 4, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Their HERO turned out to be a zero.
Voters in Houston – the nation's fourth largest city – voted in a landslide last night to repeal an ordinance that gave people who identify as transgender the right to use the restrooms, showers, and changing facilities of the opposite biological sex.
More than 60 percent of voters rejected the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), which city council passed last May. The controversial measure punished businesses that refused to allow biological males to use women's facilities with a $5,000 fine per infraction.
“Houston has become a rallying cry for Americans tired of seeing their freedoms trampled in a politically correct stampede to redefine marriage and sexuality,” said Family Research Council President Tony Perkins. “Houstonians sent a message heard across the country: They will not allow the government to flush away their money, and more importantly, their values and religious liberties.”
The local issue became the focus of national attention last year, when Mayor Annise Parker issued a subpoena for the sermons of five local pastors who opposed the ordinance.
As the election approached, the main organization supporting HERO, Houston Unites, spent almost $3 million on the election, and pro-family advocates spent barely $1 million.
“This is a national game-changer,” said Jonathan Saenz, president of Texas Values Action, after the election results came in.
In addition to Houston Unites – a coalition that includes the ACLU of Texas, the NAACP's Houston Branch, and several homosexual activist groups including the George Soros-funded Human Rights Campaign – Hillary Clinton and actress Sally Field campaigned for the measure.
President Barack Obama played a minor role in the election, as well. “The president and vice president have been strong supporters of state and local efforts to protect Americans from being discriminated against based on who they are and who they love,” the White House said in a statement last week. “We’re confident that the citizens of Houston will vote in favor of fairness and equality.”
Supporters said repealing the measure would brand the city as backward, hurt Houston economically, and perhaps cost it the chance to host the Super Bowl.
But HERO's opponents – who consisted mainly of local pastors, citizen activists, and former Houston Astros star Lance Berkman – said the ordinance violated the privacy of vulnerable young women.
“Millions of dollars pouring in from national LGBT extremists, an out-of-control mayor, and a sustained media onslaught could not overcome the tireless efforts of Houston pastors and people of faith standing for common sense, safety, and liberty,” Saenz said.
Houston is the third major city to repeal a transgender bathroom bills. Fayetteville, Arkansas, repealed a “gender identity” ordinance passed by city council last December. The city of Springfield, Missouri, struck down a similar ordinance in April.
In each case, the ordinance was enacted by city council but repudiated in a popular referendum.
Three state legislatures and nine cities have declined to pass transgender “civil rights” ordinances.
“I'm so proud of the voters of Houston who turned out in record numbers, two out of three,” said Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a Republican. He said voters sent a message to “those who supported this, including Hilary Clinton, who wants to be the next president” that “'You're out of touch with America. You're out of touch with your own party. You're out of touch with common sense. You're out of touch with common decency.'”
Despite the humbling electoral defeat, the ordinance's supporters say they will not rest until the city bows to the LGBT political agenda.
Houston Unites issued a joint statement last night calling the election “the ugliest of smear campaigns.”
“We’ve learned some important lessons,” the group said.
“I guarantee that justice in Houston will prevail,” Mayor Parker, an open lesbian, said last night.