Exactly one week after anti-LGBT forces defeated an equal rights ordinance in Houston, the city council of Dallas showed that bigotry doesn't have to be bigger in Texas, by voting unanimously to expand the big city's antidiscrimination protections.
The amendment passed Tuesday morning, according to Dallas TV station KDFW, clearly defines the rights of transgender people by adding language to the city’s existing ordinance, explicitly banning discrimination on the basis of gender identity for anyone living and working in Dallas.
“We want to make sure everyone is protected,” Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings told KDFW.
Sexual orientation has been covered by the city’s antidiscrimination law since it was enacted in 2002, according to Dallas TV station WFAA. But because gender identity is different from sexual orientation, supporters worked with Dallas’s LGBT Task Force to revise the wording — a process which took about a year, and culminated in Tuesday’s vote.
City council member Adam Medrano, who leads the city's task force on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues, added the definition of gender identity as "determined by a person's own perception."
“Today, the Dallas City Council took action to strengthen protections for transgender Americans and reaffirm their commitment to equality and justice for every person,” said Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin in a statement Tuesday. “In the wake of a vicious campaign in Houston that attacked transgender people and led to the repeal of common-sense protections, Dallas today sent a vital message that they will fight to protect and advance the rights of transgender people.”
Last week in Houston, voters repealed the Equal Rights Ordinance that had been championed by the city's out mayor, Annise Parker, and approved by the city council there last year. Opponents of HERO capitalized on provably false claims that such nondiscrimination policies would allow "men in women's bathrooms," launching an effective scare campaign that painted transgender women as predators, spreading the wholly unfounded fear that men would "pretend" to be women in order to gain access to women's bathrooms and locker rooms to harm women and children. However, in more than 200 cities nationwide (and more than a dozen school districts) with trans-inclusive nondiscrimination policies, there has never been a single verified case of someone using the policy as a cover to commit harassment, nor has there been any increase in violence against women in locations with such protections.
There was no organized opposition to the nondiscrimination ordinance's update in Dallas.
Watch a report on the vote from Dallas TV station WFAA, below.