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Opponents of Houston equal rights law submit signatures for public vote

Friday, July 4, 2014
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HOUSTON — Opponents of Houston’s new LGBT-inclusive equal rights ordinance on Thursday delivered what they say are thousands of voters’ signatures requesting that it be repealed.

Opponents of Houston's equal rights ordinance deliver boxes to the City Secretary containing thousands of signature calling for a ballot referendum.KTRK-TV

Opponents of Houston’s equal rights ordinance deliver boxes to the City Secretary containing thousands of signature calling for a ballot referendum.

The group, consisting of pastors and faith-based organizations, said they had collected more than 50,000 signatures calling for a ballot referendum aimed at repealing the measure; a total of 17,269 valid signatures are required to place the issue on the November ballot.

They say they want the public to have a chance to vote on the anti-discrimination ordinance, and not just city council members.

The Houston City Council voted 11-6 in favor of the ordinance on May 28.

The ordinance consolidates city bans on discrimination based on sex, race, age, religion and other categories and increases protections for gay and transgender residents.

Supporters, including Mayor Annise Parker, said the measure is about offering protections at the local level against all forms of discrimination in housing, employment and services provided by private businesses such as hotels and restaurants.

But debate about the measure focused largely on provisions regarding rights for gay and transgender citizens.

Parker, who is openly gay, said passing the ordinance was not the most important thing she has done in office but the “most personally meaningful thing I will do as mayor.”

In response to the repeal effort, Parker announced that the city would mount a vigorous campaign to defend the ordinance.

“I am confident voters will soundly defeat any challenge to the ordinance,” said Parker.

Staff in the City Secretary’s office have 30 days to verify that the required number of valid signatures were collected.

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