Houston Mayor Introduces Sweeping Human Rights Ordinance

CREDIT: AP Photo/David J. Phillip

Houston Mayor Annise Parker

Houston, Texas is one of the country’s few major cities that doesn’t have a human rights ordinance, but that might soon change. Openly lesbian Mayor Annise Parker (D) has introduced a draft policy that includes protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity that would ban discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations.

Lone Star Q notes that an earlier draft did not include employment protections, but after a push by LGBT advocates, the provision has been added. In a press release, Parker emphasized the importance of establishing the protections for the city:

PARKER: As I stated in my State of the City Address earlier this month, the Houston I know does not discriminate, treats everyone equally and allows full participation by everyone in civic and business life. We don’t care where you come from, the color of your skin, your age, gender, what physical limitations you may have or who you choose to love. It’s time the laws on our books reflect this.

As of a few weeks ago, eight members of the 17-member City Council supported the resolution, just one vote shy of what is required to pass. Parker will officially present the draft ordinance on April 30.

The ordinance as drafted would only affect businesses with 50 or more employees, and all religiously-affiliated organizations are exempted “to avoid First Amendment issues.” The following classes would be protected from discrimination under the policy: sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, familial status, marital status, military status, religion, disability, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity or pregnancy.