Friday, July 24, 2015

Texas Supreme Court Boots Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO)

The ordinance (.pdf) would have prohibited "any type of discrimination based on sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, familial status, marital status, military status, religion, disability, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity, or pregnancy," which are defined as "protected characteristics in city employment, city services, city contracting practices, housing, public accommodations, and private employment": in short, most basic human rights for city employees and contractors, city residents, residents in city public housing, public accommodations (i.e., businesses already obligated to be available to any member of the public who requires their goods and services) and employees of private companies over which the city has jurisdiction. (IANAL; please do not rely on this list, which is for explanatory purposes only, in any legal matters!)

The most frequent objection among opponents comes from people who dislike the ordinance's explicit protection of the rights of LGBTQ people. Heaven forfend that gay people should receive the least shred of human rights from their government, but Dog help them if they fail to pay their taxes. [/sarcasm]

Only in Texas, I hear you murmur (or shout), but I'll bet you a dollar that Texas is only the first among a number of states to void such city ordinances.

Houston has until Aug. 24 to repeal the ordinance or else place it on the November ballot for citizen approval. Again I hear you muttering, that approval will never happen, but I'm not so sure of that; Houston is, or at least has been, the most or second most politically Democratic (cap-D) city in Texas for many years, and it is my perception that all this anti-rights bullcrap is coming from our very Republican state supreme court, not the population at large, certainly not Houston's population.

This invalidation is yet more proof that the Texas Supreme Court, an elected body, is a virtually wholly partisan Republican entity. And to think it used to be the 'publicans who whined about "agenda-based adjudication" ...

AFTERTHOUGHT: I meant to say that it is a really bad sign when any government in a supposedly free and open society institutes laws which specifically remove people's rights rather than protecting them. (Right-wing readers: don't bother giving me that BS about "freedom of religion" ... no matter how many Bible-thumpers proclaim it, genuine "freedom of religion" is NOT equivalent to "freedom to force other people to behave in accordance with your religion." All our nation's founders turn in their graves every time someone asserts that.)

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