houston2On Tuesday, November 3rd voters in Houston repealed the city’s Equal Right Ordinance (HERO) which provided protections from discrimination based on 15 classes including race, disability, age, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Throughout the campaign, opposition used fear, lies, and misinformation to confuse voters.

“Our team is deeply disappointed in this loss. It feels personal to many of us who have seen or experienced discrimination based on race, ability, sexual orientation, veteran status, or gender identity. We all deserve the freedom to live without discrimination so we can provide for ourselves and our families,” said Rebecca Isaacs, executive director of Equality Federation. “What I know for sure, though, is that there will be very valuable lessons learned through this defeat and as more Houstonians and Americans get to know and embrace gay and transgender people as their friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues, the tide turns towards justice and equality.”

Federation member Equality Texas’s executive director Chuck Smith stated, “We experienced some of the most vitriolic and divisive tactics ever seen here in Texas from our opponents during this election. As a coalition we worked diligently together to confront all of the fear-mongering and misleading information used to confuse local voters. Volunteers, grassroots organizers, and an array of faith-based and civic leaders came together to work tirelessly with dedication until the very last vote was counted. It was no doubt an impressive campaign of collective action for fairness and equality. As an organization we are truly humbled by the efforts of everyone who made up the Houston Unites coalition.”

Amanda McLain-Snipes, Equality Federation’s new Organizational Development & Training Manager, spent a week on the ground in Houston working to get out the vote. During that time she updated our staff:

Among the numerous phone banks and block walks directed by the team over long 18-hour workdays, one of my favorite actions we did was the campus take over at the University of Houston. The team of over 20 volunteers and staff went onto the campus of the University of Houston for 5 hours – encouraging students to vote and educating them on the issue. From our work that day, nearly 400 students made a plan to vote early and over 100 students committed to pitching in on the campaign as volunteers! Campaigns like this one in Houston are tough work. After an exhausting day at the office, my supporter housing hosts, Pat and Kelly invited me over for a hearty and refreshing homemade Italian dinner. Over dinner, I learned Pat, as a senior policy advisor in the Texas Legislature, helped author the James Byrd Hate Crimes Act that would be passed and signed by Gov. Perry. This bill laid the necessary foundation we needed in state statute to then pass the Matthew Shepard/James Byrd Hate Crimes Act through Congress. I left dinner knowing we truly stand on the shoulders of our elders and reenergized for the days ahead.

Equality Federation extends our gratitude to all the volunteers on the ground and the Houston Unites coalition, including ACLU of Texas, Equality Texas, Freedom for All Americans, Human Rights Campaign, NAACP Houston Branch, Texas Freedom Network, and Transgender Education Network of Texas.


Check out all the blog posts and videos leading up to the election day on our HERO Hub.

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Mark Snyder

Mark Snyder is the Director of Communications for Equality Federation, and he wishes you a wonderful day. Please share this post with your friends and family.

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