Houston’s right-wing nut jobs have dubbed the LGBT nondiscrimination measure, which goes to vote Tuesday, “the bathroom ordinance.” They are obsessed with which bathrooms people use and have been making completely fabricated claims that the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) will allow “any man at any time” to use a women’s restroom.
But what’s even worse than the right’s incendiary claims is the fact that their scare tactics might actually defeat a measure that’s designed to provide nondiscrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity as well as race, sex, ethnicity, religion, disability, age, and other characteristics. Sandhya Somashekhar reports:
Robert M. Stein, a pollster and political science professor at Rice University, said his latest poll, which wrapped up in early October, shows the measure passing by six percentage points. But the political winds have shifted since then, Stein said, and now he
Early voting has shown a strong turnout among Republicans, as well as among African American voters, who appear less friendly to the ordinance than white Democrats, Stein said.
The anti-HERO sentiment was evident last week outside the Palm Center, an early voting location in predominantly black South Park. Many people wore “No Men in Women’s Bathrooms” T-shirts and handed out literature.
The nature of the election might also be providing the perfect storm for HERO’s defeat:
Brandon Rottinghaus, a University of Houston political scientist, said the rare ballot presence of a viable Republican mayoral candidate, Bill King, is driving up GOP turnout. Meanwhile, well-known Democratic state Representative Sylvester Turner, the mayoral frontrunner, is fueling an increase among African-American voters, who polls show as less likely to support HERO than whites, or Hispanic or Latino voters.
And here’s more evidence that the bathroom obsession caught on with voters.
A KHOU/KUHF pol released earlier this month found that 43 percent of respondents supported HERO, 37 percent opposed it and 18 percent were undecided, with a margin of error of 4.1 percent.
The same poll showed the claim that HERO would allow men to enter women’s restrooms to be persuasive among undecided voters, especially black women. HERO opponents have built their campaign almost entirely around the debunked transgender bathroom myth.
Houston is scheduled to host the Super Bowl in 2017 and business leaders are concerned that HERO’s defeat could spur a backlash among businesses.