The Greater Houston Partnership supports the City of Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance as approved by the Houston City Council in May 2014. The ordinance will appear on the November 3 ballot as City of Houston Proposition 1.
Houston is well-known for its business climate and for its diverse, multicultural community. The Partnership is proud to represent Houston and we believe Houston's reputation as a great place to live, work and build a business has helped drive our economic growth and create jobs. The Partnership supports Proposition 1 because we know that there is a strong connection between Houston’s community spirit and growing our businesses and creating jobs.
This November, Houstonians have an opportunity to take charge and make a clear statement that we embrace our multicultural reputation - and that we respect our fellow Houstonians.
"As we work to attract businesses and talented professionals to our region, they have made clear that they are seeking a community that is welcoming, diverse and inclusive. Ensuring such an environment is critically important to the continued success of the region’s economy."
"We believe all Houstonians should be able to find a job, enjoy an evening out, and find a place to live without facing discrimination. These are basic rights that we should all enjoy in a welcoming community, and they are good for business. We believe that the majority of the citizens of Houston recognize these basic rights and vote for the ordinance in November."
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If Houstonians vote "yes" on Prop.1, there will be a local option through the City's Office of the Inspector General for people who are victims of intentional discrimination. The ordinance requires a timely complaint, investigation and decision at the local level. This will save time and litigation costs.
The ordinance will protect 15 groups of people. Those who are opposed to the equal rights ordinance seem to be taking issue with one group: transgender Houstonians. We believe that discrimination - in any form - hurts people and communities, which hurts our city's reputation and threatens our business growth.
The ordinance includes protection from discrimination in areas of "public accommodation", which is defined as any business that offers a product or service for sale from a physical location. These type of businesses open to the public generally have public restrooms so these are covered - however it is important to note that there is no specific reference to restrooms in the ordinance.
When people first voiced concerns, we looked at statistics from the Houston Police Department and the Sheriff's office to better understand this and here is the good news:
All of the other major Texas cities have their own nondiscrimination laws already on the books, as do all of the 200 largest cities in America with one or two exceptions. These laws are commonplace. It should also be mentioned that nondiscrimination policies are in step with modern corporate America. Most major corporations in Houston and across the country have long had non-discrimination policies on the books.
Every year, Houston hosts hundreds of conventions and other events that bring in millions of tourist dollars and positively promote the city to national and international audiences. We don't want to take any action that could discourage these folks from coming to Houston. We know that discriminatory practices in other places have prompted boycotts and protests.
Specifically to the question about the Super Bowl: Houston was selected to host Super Bowl 51 in January 2017 in part because the NFL sees Houston as a dynamic and diverse city. That was actually a key component of Houston's pitch to the NFL that resonated with them.
The NFL also embraces diversity as do other major sporting events, such as the NCAA Final Four.
How will this ordinance effect the Super Bowl in 2017? We can’t say, but do know that this could impact our ability to attract these high-profile events to the city in the future.