Houston Texans owner Bob McNair made headlines for making and then rescinding $10,000 donation to the campaign to repeal the city's Equal Rights Ordinance, but the real financial powerhouse in the effort is Steve Hotze, a local doctor who's contributed $350,000 to the cause and likened the fight against LGBT rights to resistance to Nazi Germany.
But after making that statement while wielding a sword at an event in August, Hotze has toned down his rhetoric, although his pocketbook has remained open, the Houston Chronicle reports.
He brandished the sword at a rally to launch the repeal campaign, and he shocked even some longtime anti-LGBT activists, the paper reports: "In an incendiary, lengthy address, Hotze went on to link America's war against Nazi Germany to the war on gay rights, urging all gay Houstonians to flee to San Francisco. The sword, he said, was meant to represent God's word, the strongest weapon against the gay community."
"The homosexuals are hate-mongers," Hotze said at the event. "They hate God, they hate God's word, they hate Christ, they hate anything that's good and wholesome and right. They want to pervert everything."
Since then, the Chronicle notes, Hotze has stuck to funding the campaign and making statements linked only to what opponents of the ordinance wish to focus on: that extending equal rights protections to transgender Houstonians will enable male predators to invade women's restrooms. That claim has no basis in fact, but it appears to be resonating with voters, who will decide November 3 whether to keep or repeal the ordinance, a vote forced by a Texas Supreme Court decision.
Hotze has a long history of anti-LGBT activism, according to a story published this week by the Chronicle, which sought an interview with him but was turned down. For instance, in 1985, he backed a "straight slate" of City Council candidates opposed to antidiscrimination protections for city employees. And last year, when the council adopted the LGBT-inclusive Equal Rights Ordinance, his homophobic rhetoric was intense. In an email obtained by the paper, he called the law part of a "tide of homosexual perversion sweeping over the country."
Now Hotze is apparently letting his money do the talking, lending the repeal campaign $50,000, spending nearly $100,000 on radio ads, and reportedly racking up $200,000 in credit card charges for the effort, according to the Chronicle.
The drive to maintain the ordinance is attracting some big names too, however. Julian Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio who is now secretary of Housing and Urban Development, has recorded an ad in support of the law, Towleroad reports (watch below). And actress Sally Field, the mother of a gay son, will appear at a fundraiser Thursday night in Houston for Houston Unites, the primary coalition supporting the law. She will appear with several prominent local women, highlighting the fact that the ordinance bans discrimination based on sex as well as sexual orientation, gender identity, race, and other characteristics.