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Houston's Out Mayor Makes Plea for Jacksonville Equality Ordinance

Houston's Out Mayor Makes Plea for Jacksonville Equality Ordinance


Annise Parker tells residents of Jacksonville to not fall for the lies that sunk her city's nondiscrimination ordinance.


After her constituents rejected an ordinance that would have banned discrimation against several minority groups, including LGBT people, Houston Mayor Annise Parker told residents of Jacksonville, Fla., to not make the same mistake.

"We lost because fear, once it has taken root, can only grow," Parker told the Duval County Democratic Party Gala on Monday, according to The Florida Times-Union. "And a lie repeated and repeated and repeated sounds like the truth."

Parker was referring to the anti-transgender campaign waged against the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, in which business leaders, ministers, and high-ranking politicians claimed the new law would allow men to dress up as women, inflitrate public bathrooms, and abuse women and girls. In reality, the law would have allowed transgender people to use the restroom of their choosing, not to mention ban discrimination in employment, housing, and public accomodations for over a dozen minority groups. The City Council passed the ordinance in 2014, but voters repealed it last month.

"The opponents didn't really care that it protected veterans and pregnant women. ... It was just about men in bathrooms," Parker told the county Democrats.

Parker encouraged equality supporters to counter the lies of opponents, and for young voters to encourage the City Council to act on expanded protections.

But Jacksonville's nondiscrimination ordinance is proving just as controversia as Houston's. Jacksonville's mayor has not taken an official stance but instead called three community meetings to discuss it. The antigay Liberty Counsel, which had a hand in defeating HERO, is working to kill expanded protections in Jacksonville. It's working with a local attorney Joey Vaughn, who told the media, "There's no evidence of widespread discrimination" against LGBT people in northern Florida.

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