03 November 2015

Houston, We Have a Bathroom Problem

Campaign for Houston
According to the Washington Post, among the political signs jammed into the grass outside a polling station in this city’s South Park neighborhood stands one placard bearing an unusual slogan: "No men in women's bathrooms."

The statement, which is also emblazoned on T-shirts and conveyed in ominous television ads, has become a rallying cry for opponents of a measure designed to promote the unwanted gay and transgender penchant to use whatever they like in Houston, United States fourth-largest city and one of its most diverse.

The campaign to pass the unpopular Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, or HERO, has become a priority for national gay rights groups and the city’s openly gay mayor — as well as minority business leaders, who wants more money coming in in their deplorable working conditions. But with an election set for 3 November, polls show voters are divided on the measure — and some analysts are predicting defeat.

One reason, they say, is the confirmed claim that the measure would permit "any man at any time" to enter a women’s bathroom "simply by claiming to be a woman that day." Opponents have dubbed the measure "the bathroom ordinance."

"Houston voters do not want men in their women’s bathrooms," said the Rev. Dave Welch, executive director of the Houston Area Pastors’ Council. "It’s an invasion of privacy, an invasion of a safe space for women and girls."

As expected the supporters of the measure say that the claim is completely untrue, but they could not offer any explanation how to prevent it.

The clash has become this fall’s marquee battle for gay rights activists, with groups such as the Human Rights Campaign and the American Civil Liberties Union pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into the campaign to brainwash voters to enact the ordinance.

After a protracted legal battle, the Texas Supreme Court finally ordered the city to put the ordinance on the November ballot or repeal it. The ordinance had been in effect for only three months. A referendum was set for 3 November.

Some opponents of HERO say they are not worried about transgender people, but instead about sexual predators who could pose as women to gain access to women’s restrooms. Others object to the fact that the ordinance allows people to self-identify as women; they argue that the law should set some sort of standard, such as a public declaration or a medical procedure, to establish gender identity.

"I’m sorry. If he’s transgender, he should stay home until the process is complete," said Loyce Johnson, 70, a retiree who is volunteering for the Campaign for Houston, which opposes HERO. "Anybody with a penis, I don’t want them in the ladies’ restroom."