While the NFL has been making strides to be more inclusive and welcoming of gay players and LGBT fans over the past few years, Houston Texans owner Bob McNair is running the ball in the other direction. McNair gave $10,000 to the effort to repeal Houston's LGBT-inclusive human rights ordinance this week, according to the Houston Chronicle.
As The Advocate has reported, opponents of the ordinance have focused primarily on the law's inclusion of transgender people, claiming the law will allow sexual predators to lurk in bathrooms to attack women. The claim uses transgender people as a boogeyman; no such crimes have been reported over the decades that LGBT-inclusive human rights ordinances and laws have existed.
Most local businesses and celebrities have spoken out in favor of the ordinance, but McNair's cash infusion comes just weeks before the city election to decide the law's fate. Tony Perkins, leader of the Family Research Council, an anti-LGBT organization listed as a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center, trumpeted the donation in an email to supporters:
"A long-time conservative, the football mogul jumped into the fight with just a few weeks left until the city’s vote. Like so many locals, he’s strongly against forcing local businesses to swallow their beliefs and celebrate sexual immorality. No doubt McNair is also shaking his head at the thought of giving grown men the green light to share bathrooms, locker rooms, and public showers with young girls simply because they identify as another gender. With a $10,000 donation, he and Major League Baseball’s Lance Berkman helped put to rest the notion that high-profile Texans all line-up behind the ordinance.”
Berkman, a former star player for the Houston Astros, appears in a recent political ad opposing the ordinance. "I played professional baseball for 15 years, but my family is more important,” the six-time All-Star says in the spot. “My wife and I have four daughters. Proposition 1 would allow troubled men who claim to be women to enter women’s bathrooms, showers and locker rooms. It’s better to prevent this danger by closing women’s restrooms to men, rather than waiting for a crime to happen. Join me to stop the violation of privacy and discrimination against women."
HERO supporters have warned that repealing the ordinance could have financial and public relations repercussions similar to the outcry after Indiana passed a "religious freedom" law intended to allow businesses to discriminated against LGBT people. Houston is set to host the 2017 Super Bowl, but supporters say repealing HERO could jeopardize the event.
Richard Carlbom, campaign manager for Houston Unites, pointed to the many supporters of the ordinance telling the Chronicle the "vast majority of Houston business interests taking a position on Proposition 1 support it. They know discrimination is bad for business and bad for the city's image. Over time, companies, including sporting franchises, will stop wanting to come here."
Watch Berkman's anti-LGBT commercial below.