Houston, know thy bigots: outing the haters
July 30, 2014
Et tu, Caroline Criado-Perez?
August 6, 2014

Houston trans-inclusive equity ordinance survives

By Cristan Williams
@cristanwilliams

 

Houston Mayor Annise Parker and City attorney David Feldman announced that the effort to overturn equality failed to collect enough valid petition signatures to put minority rights up for a popular vote in the upcoming November election. Even though the Houston Area Pastor’s Council (HAPC) has threatened to sue, due to time constraints, there is no possible way that the equality ordinance will be on the November 2014 ballot.

From lgbtqnation.com

It was widely reported that the HAPC was able to turn in 50,000+ signatures demanding that minority equality be repealed in Houston. Numerous photos of HAPC wheeling in boxes of petitions were circulated throughout the media and these photos are now appearing juxtaposed to the news that the anti-equality group didn’t have enough signatures.

HAPC showing off mostly empty boxes for the press. The box in David Welch’s (Box F) hands  holds just 345 pages.

The claim of 50k+ signatures seems to have come from an estimate of the number of possible signatures, given that each anti-equality petition had 15 spaces for signatures. The claim of 50k seems to have gained traction by the HPAC’s display of carting in what appeared to be box after box full of petitions. What HPAC failed to note was that the boxes they were carting in were mostly empty and it was extremely rare that a petition page was full of signatures. In fact, many of the pages looked like this:

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Above are a sample of the petition pages HAPC turned in. These are pages 4 through 9. While these petition pages could be claimed to potentially hold 75 valid signatures, they held merely 7 signatures the HAPC itself identified as being valid.

Unsurprisingly, the City of Houston Secretary, City Attorney and independent petition reviewers all found numerous problems with petition signatures.

The Harris County DA is currently investigating a HAPC representative for engaging in voter fraud while working to overturn the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (AKA, “HERO”). The investigation comes after the TransAdvocate caught the representative on tape attempting to violate Texas Election laws. 

Notice from City of Houston Secretary certifying only 15,249 signatures

The City Secretary, Anna Russell, who has served as the City Secretary for more than 40 years, was able to certify only 15,249 petition signatures as being valid. HAPC is claiming that they fell short due to a homosexual conspiracy. “We were well aware we were dealing with an administration that’s willing to bend the rules,” said David Welch, spokesperson for the HAPC.

HAPC Hyperbole

In a perverse twist of irony, the group that stood against the most recent Houston equality ordinance recruited may black Christian pastors to be voice of their bigotry. While waving their bibles in the air, these bigots asserted this fight for equality was in no way reminiscent traditional civil rights efforts. However, PoC leaders like past City Council Member, Jolanda Jones, the TransAdvocate Editor, Monica Roberts, Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, the NAACP, the Urban League and LULAC didn’t see it that way.

This is a human rights issue. It is a civil rights issue and if people haven’t noticed, I happen to be black since people seem to think there is a distinction between being black and being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. It is the same. You are who you are; you are born like that. I am hurt [begins to weep] that I hear people using religion to figure out ways to discriminate… I hope that those who vote do it for the right reasons because god forbid you have a GLBT person in your family; I’ve had 2 friend’s kids commit suicide over discrimination against that community. So, I urge you to vote for it because it’s a human rights issue!   – City Council Member, Jolanda Jones

I’m one of the people folks on the other side was demonizing earlier this afternoon. I’m part of the transgender community. I’m also a proud African-American. What I heard over the last couple of hours from ministers in my community really sickened me. That they didn’t believe that it’s possible to be part of the transgender community and be a proud African America [turns to face the bigots seated]. Hello, I’m here! – Monica Roberts

After appealing to religion, tradition and ideological morality, out came the Oppressed as Rapists meme. The meme was used against both gay and trans people:

“Stay our of our bathrooms & businesses!”

Bigots assert they shouldn’t have to use the same bathroom as a gay person.

Note the Oppressed as Rapist meme promoted in the below talking-points handout given to equality foes. These talking points were referenced time and again by bigots addressing the Houston City Council:

Appeals to religion and tradition while demonizing LGBT people as rapists and perverts

The handout claims that “If men are allowed easy access to public bathrooms, shower rooms and/or locker rooms, then this can also promote sexual intercourse in a public setting. This can expose children to behavior that should not be so. This can lead them to start experimenting [with] different acts or things in which they normally would have never done.” It claims that if the equality ordinance is defeated, “people’s morality, ethics and/or beliefs” would be respected and goes on to warn that “physical, verbal, and sexual abuse can intensify” should the equality ordinance pass.

Republican State Representative Dwayne Bohac claimed that the Houston equality ordinance is a “threat to religious liberty” because it would force people to treat LGBT people equally. Furthermore, he claimed that equal rights would mean that children may be molested. Bohac, invoking the Klan Fallacy, cited a letter by the anti-abortion group, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). ADF is the selfsame group that gave rise to the Evergreen College hoax. The letter falsely asserted that video recording women using the restroom will become a supported activity should equality happen:

[The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance will support] the presence of men in women’s bathrooms, shower rooms, and locker rooms, placing women and children at risk of voyeurism, photographing and video recording, and sexual assault.

The “Texas Values Coalition” asserted that our civil rights are subject to the personal whims of whatever religious standard someone might hold because that’s traditionally moral:

Houston Mayor Annise Parker, who is an open lesbian, has announced a proposed wide-reaching LGBT ordinance that she plans to fast track into law within the next two weeks. This special rights ordinance is a direct threat to people of faith and traditional morality in the City of Houston. The ordinance would give government new power to force private individuals and businesses to affirm homosexual conduct and actual or perceived “gender identity” or face serious criminal penalties.

The above photo captures a powerful moment when activists supported a mother as her transgender son spoke before the Houston City Council, thanking his mother for the her continued support. What makes this photo all the more powerful is that while they were attempting to to enter City Hall to speak before the City Council, they were forcibly separated by a swarm of bigots. One group of bigots began shouting at the mother while the second group began laying hands on the child in an effort to cast out invisible demons. The mother and son were saved by a group of equality activists who answered the mother’s call for help. After this assault, riot police were present at the next hearing to ensure the safety of those wishing to speak before the city council.

The hyperbole-inspired violence was even aimed at the Mayor:

When I spoke to the Houston City Council, I implored them to not fall for the tactics of bigotry:

I’m really surprised that a lot of the adults here today believe that we Houstonians are not a mature as our children. Many of you know that in HISD, kids are protected on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. They manage it; they’ve managed it for two years now. How many of these horror stories have you heard? None. And yet here – today – we’ve had adults come in and swear up and down that we are about to experience a pandemic of sexual predators, sneaking into the bathrooms to carry out their nefarious purpose. I’m sorry but I think that we are at least as mature as our children.

When we stand on the equivocation that discrimination against discrimination is discrimination, we stand with the Klan member whose deep religious belief in the so-called “Curse of Ham” should give him the religious right to discriminate against black people. I hear the bathroom meme – this bigot’s one-trick pony – and I ask you to not fall for it. It was used against the Jews, against black people, against the ERA fight in the 1970s, against gay people in the 80s and 90s, against people with HIV, against gay service members and here we find it rolled out – yet again – against trans people.

I ask that we not fall for it again.

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The HAPC Sexual Harassment Scandal

While HAPC is quick to cast LGBT people as sexual deviants, HAPC spokespersons Welch and Baker are currently mired in a real sexual abuse scandal.  When speaking against equality, Pastor Kendall Baker mentioned that he had just ended a 20+ year career with the City of Houston due to failures of the Office of the Inspector General (OIG). What Baker failed to mention that he was fired after the OIG determined that he had made lewd comments, sexual advances, engaged in inappropriate touching and solicited sexual acts from the females he was supervising.

David Welch attempted to help Baker escape facing the consequences of his sexual harassment of women. Welch even denounced the investigation into Baker’s sexual harassment before the Houston City Council.

Baker asked the council, “What if I came into the restroom here while you were sitting on the toilet? How would you feel?” At the end of Baker’s rant, Mayor Parker responding to Baker’s aspersions against the OIG saying, “You are proof we do a good job in the OIG, sir.”

The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance

HAPC hyperbole aside, the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance protects 15 separate classes. They are:

  • Sex
  • Race
  • Color
  • Ethnicity
  • National Origin
  • Age
  • Familial Status
  • Marital Status
  • Military Status
  • Religion
  • Disability
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Genetic Information
  • Gender Identity
  • Pregnancy

Houston, following in the footsteps of El Paso, Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, Ft. Worth and around 190 other cities and counties with gender identity protections, passed the equality ordinance, 11 to 6. Those voting against equality were:

Those voting in support of equality were:

Jerry Davis

Many of you, when I stepped into the chambers this morning noticed that I didn’t have my goatee. I was gearing up for Malcolm X’s birthday; I wrote my thesis on him in college and one of the quotes he had was, “If you aren’t careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.” I think we’ve had a lot of that over the last two months.  When he came back from his pilgrimage in African, he talked about going to the UN because the human rights of people were being oppressed here in the US. This is very dear to me; we talked about what happened 30 years ago [the 1985 Houston equality ordinance] in Council and being on the right side of history, but one of the things is that WE allowed the misinformation to get out; they just took the ball and ran with it. And so, if this ordinance passes today, we need to get out there and tell people what this ordinance is about. It’s not the ‘Mayor’s Bathroom Ordinance’ that a pastor put on his website today and I wish we could have a come to Jesus meeting with him about that.

CO “Brad” Bradford

We don’t get to judge. So, in my choices and activities of life, I get to choose between what some say poses a risk to children in bathrooms against denying access services to transgender beings who god made. Transgender beings are human beings that need access to services just like others do.

Richard Nguyen

Ed Gonzalez

We’re not taking the lead on this necessarily, corporate America has already beat us to this, many other cities have beat us to this. And guess what? The sky didn’t fall. Communities are still thriving and ours will continue to thrive as well. All of the individuals are citizens, we collect their taxes equally and we don’t distinguish between some being more valuable than others.

Robert Gallegos

Thousands of Americans have lost their lives defending the basic principles of our country in regards to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and I’m asking my colleagues as elected officials to please support HERO. Many individuals have come up to the microphone and have voiced their concerns that they do not have those basic rights.

Larry Green

Sometimes in your life you will have votes that are bigger than yourself. To support an equal rights ordinance is something bigger than myself. As Dr. King stated, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in a moment of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at the time of challenge and controversy.” I too have been threatened. I too have had misinformation disseminated in my district. I stand for equal rights for everybody in this city!

Mike Laster

The only opposition we have been presented with regarding this ordinance has been those who seek to exclude people from the protections of this ordinance and those, in particular, are members of the LGBT community, and that is greatly troublesome. Can you imagine any constituency advocating that we exclude race, color or ethnicity, sex or the religious protection? Of course not! But I’m grateful for the voices of opposition for two reasons: 1.) it’s important that their voices be heard in this process, but more so, I’m grateful for those voices and the concerns expressed because they uniquely present the best evidence and the most articulate argument for including the LGBT community in this ordinance.

Ellen Cohen

I would like to use my time to quote from someone I admire greatly. Her name is Jill Ruckelshaus. She might not be familiar to you but she was the Chair of the National Women’s Political Caucus Convention held in 1977.  It was held here in Houston. Jill and I are very good friends; I’ve taken the liberty of changing a couple of words as I complete my remarks: “We are in for a very, very long haul. I’m asking for everything you have to give. We will never give up. You will lose your youth, your sleep, your patience, your sense of humor and occasionally, the understanding and support of people who love you very much. In return I have nothing to offer you but your pride in being a human being and all the dreams you have ever had for your daughters, sons, nieces, nephews and grandchildren, your future and the certain knowledge that at the end of your days, you’ll be able to look back and say that once in your life you gave everything you had for justice.

The remaining yes votes were: Annise Parker, Stephen Costello and David Robinson.

For the last four years, Houston has has an executive order in place extending HERO-like protections to LGBT people on City property. For the last two years, it has been Houston Independent School District policy that HERO-like protections are extended to LGBT employees and children in HISD. Similar protections have been in place on Houston college and university campuses for years.


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Cristan Williams
Cristan Williams
Cristan Williams is a trans historian and pioneer in addressing the practical needs of the transgender community. She started the first trans homeless shelter in the South and co-founded the first federally funded trans-only homeless program, pioneered affordable healthcare for trans people in the Houston area, won the right for trans people to change their gender on Texas ID prior to surgery, started numerous trans social service programs and founded the Transgender Center as well as the Transgender Archives. Cristan is the editor at the social justice sites TransAdvocate.com and TheTERFs.com, is a long-term member and previous chair of the City of Houston HIV Prevention Planning Group.
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  • tsxtina

    is dee omally retarded? that is one confused cis-man.

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  • Dee Omally

    HERO—HOUSTON ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF HISTORY [part III of III]

    I wrote all of the above because (also wrote about it elsewhere) I, a female (trans but not at the time) at the age of 21 chose to “test God”, for lack of a better word, but it was no “test”. It was a bottom-of-heart about-to-jump-off-a-cliff proverbial cry for help. I pleaded my case as to why I believed, like the biblical characters of old, that I too deserved “God’s” personal attention, and at that very moment I got just that. It was a vision, one which I denied at the moment, but one that was affirmed as I found myself out of an impossible situation. Someone, something or some force much stronger than the USAF had essentially inspired me to “hang in there one more day”, and had “moved a mountain” enabling me to get out early, precisely answering my cry for help. Nothing like this has happened again but it did that one time. Stories of this are replete in the bible, and my personal experience only served to validate them even more. Hard to believe? Indeed, but we only need to look up into space on a dark night and instinctively know that far beyond our blue marble exist forces beyond human comprehension.

    While these so-called Christians in name only, who became despondent—even resorting to physical abuse that required police intervention—claim to be representing God, we who have a trans history have continued (Cristan and Monica are amazing!) to labor and toil on behalf of what is right, religion or no religion. Whether CA AB 1266 or this HERO ordinance (Thank you Mayor Parker and Houston LGBT advocates!) I want to let those city council members in Houston know that this female (trans) walks with God, albeit as a fallible human being. This is no idle claim, but at the age of 21, when “God” made her presence known to me (vision), belief (faith) gave way to knowledge, for knowledge requires no faith, for it reveals itself, as it did to me. I was listening to the radio today and heard a definition for prophet I had never heard before. It said a prophet is not just one who prophecies, but one who delivers a message derived from divine origins.

    As such a recipient (at 21), I cannot and must not run away from the fact that I did receive such a message, no matter your skepticism or perception of my sanity, for such is completely understood. My message is simply this: “God” exists because He showed me that He does. With love and sincere empathy to my fellow Christians in Houston and elsewhere I say this: the God that you and I have chosen to believe by faith, is not one that seeks to include only some of his children in the fruits of life, but all of His children, including the LGBT. In Houston, your labor against God’s children (LGBT) was not a labor borne of divine wisdom, but of damnable contempt from the deceiver of old, and yet it came to no avail because whether AB 1266, other statutes coast to coast, or the HERO statute, God looks out over His children. What you were deceived to deploy for evil, God herself meant it for good once again. Other Christians, take note of my message, for either now or later you will know that I have spoken with truth, not lies, which are part of the nomenclature of God’s nemesis Himself. Take this to the bank and ca$h it in, now or later.

    END

    • Do you have a Blog Dee? If not you should really start one!

  • Dee Omally

    FAITH SOLIDIFIED, BORE FRUIT AT 21 [part II]

    As I read the most confusing book I have ever feasted on, the bible, I instinctively found myself setting aside (not ignoring) historical context, Hebrew worship procedural law, administrative law…battles, wars, gore. Our eye-blink-of-duration earthly sojourn cannot possibly explain much of what is depicted and to expect that it would is not realistic. As an 8 to 15 year old, the period in which I did most of my reading, I found myself focused on these two extremely fascinating areas in the bible: (1) biblical characters with almost superhuman exploits, seemingly endowed with divine power from having found “favor” from “God” and (2) direct and personal unmediated contact from “God” to those with whom He chose to do so. To be sure, none of us were alive which precludes me from ever becoming fanatical. Like all of us, I had a choice before me: to believe or not to believe what it entailed. Compared to all of the other books, this was no novel, no history book (although does contain history), no textbook and no work of fiction (historical validity).

    I concluded that at least a great portion of it contained historical truth, and told about real people. It was the story of one group (Hebrew) and successive conflicts, blessings and curses. It included a follow up (NT) that told about a world yet to come…promises..Commandments. I concluded that given the known historical truth and the present day existence of the Hebrew people…whatever untruths it contained had to be a matter of translation. Again, I say this to paint a background of what follows. Certainly the bible doesn’t explain very well how other religions came about, except for paganism. A reminder is in order: this is not to proselytize but to focus on those who spread lies (Christians) to skew the truth and to legislate persecution.

  • Dee Omally

    PREFACE [part I]

    Both love and belief are neither if coerced. We see examples of both even today: forced marriages…forced religion. Saying “I love you” or “I believe” merely require that one vibrates the vocal cords. Having been born in the Eastern Mojave in California, I truly grew up in a desert wilderness, so desolate that my home town and school town are now classified as “ghost towns”. Having no access to televised broadcasts due to living beyond the typical 50 or so miles of TV range , my entertainment consisted of 2 FM radio stations (“elevator music”) and one AM Spanish station from Mexicali (XED, “La Grande!”) and two other AM stations (KLAC/western format then, and KFI, top 40 then). At night, I would listen to 770 KOB from Albuquerqe N.M, and a station from Utah, due to the F layer atmospheric night changes. It’s been about 23 years since I became amateur radio licensed so I forgot all that skip stuff.

    SELF-TAUGHT ENRICHMENT

    My childhood boy cave and entertainment center consisted of a comfortable arm chair in the household garage where I would spend hours feasting on a buffet of books. My appetite was so voracious that in the 5th grade I was crowned K-12 spelling bee champ, astounding the entire school. As the words became progressively difficult, 6th, 7th, and even 8th graders had to take their seats in shame while I remained standing. The school had never seen someone like me before, and probably not since. One secret that I had was that my 5th grade teacher had given me boxes of her books, most at the college level. I read the interesting ones and set aside others like Phrenology and Botany. “Thomas Paine”, a book that I still have and cherish, was very interesting. One book that asked for and received my undivided attention was the bible (KJ version I believe). I include this preface to establish credibility with what I am about to say regarding so-called Houston Christians who truly believe that the very hate they exhibit comes from a loving heart or from divine origin.

    As I write, bear in mind that I am not passing judgment on them—no one need to when they have already revealed by their very despicable actions that whom they really are. These are no genuine Christ followers, no matter how convinced they are. They bought the lies, hook, line and sinker. Once deceived, they attempted to deceive many more, and in the process fought no fair fight, broadly smearing an entire swath of God’s creation. I can personally testify, with years of public safety service behind me, that cisgender men, violent and incorrigible male predators overflowing with testosterone, not females with a male birth history, have been and continue to be the threat, HERO law or not. The criminal inferences that were splashed onto females (trans) belong over these cisgender men, not trans females. For over 65 years now sex has been corrected to match identity—these so-called lovers of Christ were spewing out lies faster than a goat poops out goat pellets. The absolute worst possible sentence to these violent Alpha males would be to turn them into “sissies” (is how they see us in the gay & trans communities).

    [see part II]

  • friday jones

    “If men are allowed easy access to public bathrooms, shower rooms and/or locker rooms, then this can also promote sexual intercourse in a public setting. This can expose children to behavior that should not be so. This can lead them to start experimenting [with] different acts or things in which they normally would have never done.”

    Isn’t that also a strong argument against dairy farming and ranching? Because dairy farming and ranching depends on animals having sexual intercourse all over the place.

    Heck, it’s also an argument against people owning pets. I do not want to have to explain to Little Suzie what the Retriever tried to do to my leg, after all…

  • Thank goodness. Now if we could just get something like this passed in Terre Haute.

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