This country has come a great ways on LGBT rights. Acceptance of those with different sexual orientations or gender identities has become the norm, even expected within polite society. The recent, albeit short, flareup over now-former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich’s inflammatory positions should be evidence enough of such a change. As steadfast supporters of LGBT rights, this board has been heartened to see just how rapid this progress has been, but are reminded daily of just how far there is to go, particularly in Texas.
The Texas Republican Party’s, the only party with any semblance of power at the statewide level, platform audaciously proclaims that “We affirm that the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society and contributes to the breakdown of the family unit,” and that “Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable lifestyle.” Such ignorance is unfortunately commonplace throughout this State and, in the absence of municipal codes to that effect, citizens may still be discriminated against by their government and their employers, just for innate sexual preferences. Accordingly, it is now up to Houston to create a strong ordinance to protect this all-too-vulnerable portion of the population. We believe that Houston should boldly take a stand against bigotry and hatred by adopting a stringent set of regulations, mirrored after either the City of Austin or City of Dallas, which prohibit such discrimination within the government, as well as by private individuals in the cases of both accommodations and employment. In short, a restaurant could not deny service to a gay patron or fire a lesbian waitress if she came out.
As the Houston City Council considers these proposals, it should be noted that if the Council is not able to pass a strong regulation, something is amiss. A big majority of Councilmembers went on the record last year during their campaigns, and took stands in favor of a strong non-discrimination ordinance that applies to private businesses as well as the government. If any of them are not prepared to vote to that effect, it would mean they are either liars or uselessly thin-willed. Either way, poor qualities from an elected official that should be strongly repudiated at the ballot box next year. We will certainly remember.
We imagine that the inevitable opponents of this legislation will point to either individual liberties or religious convictions as a reason not to implement an ordinance with some teeth. Simply put, this board begs to differ. We have simply come to a point where intolerance of gays & lesbians is no longer acceptable, similar to racism or antisemitism. There is no justifiable reason for service to be denied or employment be terminated to an individual on the basis of that person’s inborn attribute, be that race, sex or sexual orientation.
As the Texas Legislature has demonstrated time and time again its total callous disregard for their LGBT constituents, and as the US Congress has failed in its attempt to enact a national Employee Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), this responsibility is now up to our local representatives on the Houston City Council. We sincerely hope that they do what is right, and pass a comprehensive non-discrimination ordinance that protects in government, accommodation and employment.
The Texpatriate Editorial Board is comprised of Noah M. Horwitz & Olivia Arena of Austin, Sophia Arena of Houston, George Bailey of Boston and Andrew Scott Romo of New Orleans. Editorials represent a majority opinion of the board.