This is a few days late, I have had a whirlwind of a weekend in Houston, but I felt that this story was specifically too important to ignore. In a recent speech and press release, Mayor Annise Parker outlined her proposals for a comprehensive non-discrimination ordinance protecting LGBT rights. The only problem with this, of course, it is not all that comprehensive. Texas Leftist sums up the position somewhat well, as does Lone Star Q. In short, it covers both public employment and private corporations providing public accommodations. However, it does not cover private employment. This means, simply put, that most people could continue to be fired in Houston just for being gay.
Ostensibly, Parker sold out on this important detail because she did not have the votes on the council. It is important to note, however, that the comprehensive NDOs are not as ubiquitous as many may think. Only Austin, Dallas and Fort Worth fully ban the private employer discrimination, whereas El Paso and San Antonio have ordinances similar to the one Mayor Parker has proposed. For all of Julian Castro’s accolades in his past last year for a comprehensive NDO, it did not actually go all that far in comparison.
The Mayor has said that she wants this to be on the agenda come May, so I guess that I will be back in town when all this goes down. The idea of watering down your legislation because of fears of confrontation belongs in the cesspool that is Washington, not City Hall. Particularly since her re-election last November, Parker has demonstrated time and time again that she is afraid of neither contentious decisions or confrontation. To now back off from complete justice is totally uncalled for.
Otherwise, let’s go down the line and see who is supportive and who is not. I got all this info secondhand from trusted sources, but understand it may not be completely accurate. Accordingly, take this with a grain of salt. As I currently understand it, there are eight supporters of the private employment provision (Annise Parker, Stephen Costello, David Robinson, Jerry Davis, Ellen Cohen, Ed Gonzalez, Robert Gallegos and Mike Laster) and five opponents (Jack Christie, Brenda Stardig, Dave Martin, Richard Nguyen and Oliver Pennington). The remaining four Councilmembers (Michael Kubosh, C.O. Bradford, Dwight Boykins and Larry Green) are somewhere in the middle.
From what I have heard, Bradford is particularly amenable to the idea, though he has certainly never been shy about his steadfast support for private property rights in all ways, shapes and forms. Kubosh is the other big surprise, given that he refused to give me a straight answer on this subject last year during the campaign.
If Christie is truly opposed to expanding the ordinance to private employers, I will sincerely bite my tongue. The Horwitz family did our part, for whatever it was worth, on that issue.
I do truly hope everyone comes to their senses and votes for this logical and fair ordinance. Indeed, Houston always prides itself on being inclusive and pragmatic on such issues. But if we cannot come to such an amicable agreement, Parker needs to fight like hell for what is morally correct. Let justice be done though the heavens fall.