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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 25 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 17
Houston mayor introduces LGBT civil rights ordinance
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Houston mayor introduces LGBT civil rights ordinance

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Houston's Lesbian mayor Annise Parker introduced a sweeping civil rights ordinance on April 21, which would ban discrimination on a number of grounds including sexual orientation and gender identity.

If passed, the new ordinance would cover discrimination in the workplace, housing and public accommodations, and would cover both public employees and workers in private industry.

In addition to sexual orientation and gender identity, the ordinance would also prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, familial status, marital status, military status, religion, disability, genetic information, and pregnancy.

Complaints under the ordinance and decisions about prosecution would be handled by the Office of the Inspector General under the City Attorney. If the target of a complaint refuses to work with investigators, City Council could use its subpoena power to compel cooperation.

'The Houston I know doesn't discriminate. It really doesn't matter in Houston, and it shouldn't matter in Houston, your place of origin, your gender, your age, what physical limitations you may have or who you choose to love,' Parker said. 'It's time to codify in ordinance that position.'

Parker's office says she intends to present the draft ordinance to the City Council's Quality of Life Committee on April 30. Consideration by the full City Council is scheduled for May 7.

A coalition of LGBT rights groups participated in drafting the ordinance and pressuring Parker and Houston City Council members to include private employees in the provisions.

Among the groups participating were Equality Texas, HRC, Out and Equal Houston, Log Cabin Republicans, Stonewall Democrats, and the Houston LGBT Caucus.

'We thank Mayor Parker for her leadership on this common sense legislation. It is far past time to protect the citizens of Houston from all forms of discrimination, including discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity,' HRC National Field Director Marty Rouse said in a statement.

'As the nation's fourth largest city, Houston is an epicenter for business and culture. Cities thrive when all citizens feel welcome and part of the cultural fabric. Today, Mayor Parker told every Houstonian that they are a valued part of the city's future.'

Parker, first elected in 2009, is now in her third term as Mayor. The new civil rights measure was one of her campaign promises in the 2013 election.

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