Voters to decide on equal rights ordinance on November ballot

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Houston City Council voted today to put the controversial Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, known as HERO, to voters on the November ballot.

The ballot question will be as follows:

    Shall the City of Houston repeal the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance,Ord. No. 2014-530, which prohibits discrimination in city employment and city services, city contracts, public accommodations, private employment, and housing based on an individual's sex, race, color, ethnicity,national origin, age, familial status, marital status, military status, religion, disability, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity, or pregnancy?

The council voted 11-5 not to repeal HERO earlier in the session.

The Texas Supreme Court suspended the ordinance last month. That means the council had to either repeal the measure or put it on the November ballot.

The City Council approved HERO last year. It bans discrimination, such as federal laws based on several categories like race and religion, but it also includes sexual orientation and gender identity.

Since last May, opponents of the ordinance collected thousands of signatures. They say the ordinance violates religious freedom and they were concerned about men going to women's bathrooms and women going into men's bathrooms.

Houston City Council members agreed.

Member Mike Laster said, "I think it's the right thing to do to move this ordinance forward and to give the people an opportunity to vote on this ordinance. I trust the citizens of Houston. I trust the ability to vote with their heart and their conscience."

Opponents of the ordinance were in the chambers today when the vote passed, but they didn't want to talk about it right now because they have to look at the ballot language to see if they are satisfied.

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