Yesterday, Houston Mayor Annise Parker released a draft of a sweeping, citywide Human Rights Ordinance. Parker, who identifies as a lesbian, endorsed this latest version of the ordinance, noting that previous iterations did not include employment protections for LGBT individuals.
"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," Parker said in a press release. "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."
The ordinance would protect individuals living, working in, or visiting the city. The ordinance lists several "protected characteristics," including sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, familial status, marital status, military status, religion, disability, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity, and pregnancy.
If implemented, the ordinance would outlaw discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations for members of these groups. Because Texas does not have statewide nondiscrimination protections for LGBT individuals, Parker's proposal could expand important protections for the city's diverse population.
The draft policy defines gender identity as "an individual's innate identification, appearance, expression or behavior as either male or female, although the same may not correspond to the individual's body or gender as assigned at birth." Sexual orientation is defined as "the actual or perceived status of a person with respect to his or her sexuality."
Currently, Houston remains the largest city in the country without some form of LGBT human rights ordinance in place.
If approved, the ordinance would go into effect immediately. Mayor Parker plans to present the draft to the City Council's Quality of Life Committee on April 30, for consideration by the full city council on May 7.