Houston business leaders reveal plans to support HERO

Some business leaders could reveal how they plan to back Houston's equal rights ordinance, and what that could mean for the city.

HOUSTON – With less than a week ago until Election Day, confusion and questions about Houston's equal right's ordinance continue to swirl.

Polls show that 1 in 5 Houston voters still haven't decided if they'll vote yes on Proposition 1, often referred to as "HERO."

"You have the anti-HERO side twisting facts and scaring voters," Ric Campo, chairman and CEO of Camden Property Trust, said at a Wednesday morning press conference.

Houston's business organizations are almost universally standing behind the ordinance. Leaders joined forces Wednesday to say if it does not pass it could have a detrimental impact on our local economy.

"We're competing for talent every single day with every other city," Campo said. "When you have a situation when you're viewed as not being diverse, not being open not being anti-discriminatory, which is a mark on the score card."

Speakers Wednesday pointed out how crucial it is to attract millennials to Houston with a city growing as fast as it is. That's the age group between 18 and 34 years old.

"It immediately affects young graduates graduating this December or next may thinking about where do they want to locate," Bob Harvey, president and CEO of the Greater Houston partnership, said.

Proponents point out a similar issue in the state of Indiana about a year ago. Conventions that had already planned to come to Indianapolis threatened to pull out of a million hotel rooms if the state didn't reverse a religious freedom bill that opened the door to discrimination against the gay community.

That translated would have translated into a $1.5 billion hit to the local economy.

Raw: Business leaders reveal plans to support HERO

Much of the talk about the ordinance has centered around gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights, but ordinance also offers local protection to people based on race, sex and religion as well as a number of other categories including marital status, military status and disability.

Right now, there are federal and state protections against discrimination, but no local laws in place to protect these groups.

"The importance of passing Prop. 1 is paramount to our city and the African American community as a whole," Yolanda Smith, executive director of NAACP Houston, said.

Smith says 56 percent of the claims it receives are race based.

"I don't think they really realize it until affects them specifically," she added.

Opponents say this goes against their religious beliefs against homosexuality and they have also labeled this the "bathroom ordinance," alleging that it would open the door for sexual predators to go into women's restrooms.

Those in support of the ordinance point out that it does not make it legal to harm someone in a bathroom and does not protect sexual predators. It also does not allow men to freely use women's bathrooms.

Smith and other leaders are asking voters to be sure on the facts before heading to the polls and to recognize the bigger impact that Proposition 1 could have on the fourth largest city in the country.

 

 

 

 


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