City Council Approves Ordinance
On May 28, 2014, the Houston City Council passed the Equal Rights Ordinance, including an amendment by Council member Jerry Davis removing Section 17-51(b), by a vote of 11-6. The ordinance is scheduled to take effect on Friday, June 27, 2014.
Click here for the final ordinance draft.
May 14 City Council Meeting
- While Council was able to vote on several amendments, including Gallegos’ amendment related to private employment and several technical items, procedural hurdles were created with the introduction of the Davis amendment to eliminate section 17-51 (b).
- Reportedly, several City Council members were also swayed by community concerns that key organizations were not involved in the development of the ordinance.
- The Council will reconvene to discuss the ordinance on May 28.
The Greater Houston Partnership has announced the organization’s support for the proposed City of Houston equal rights ordinance provided certain items are included in the final draft. GHP’s Executive Committee met in special session held on Friday afternoon, April 25 and unanimously adopted this position.
The ordinance will create a new equal rights chapter in municipal code that addresses discrimination in city employment, city contracting, housing, public accommodations and private employment.
For Bob Harvey’s May 27 Houston Chronicle opinion piece, click here.
Highlights for May 14 City Council Vote:
- GHP supports Jerry Davis’ amendment to remove section 17-51 (b), eliminating language that has prompted concerns over public restrooms.
- The Partnership supports the May 5th draft of the City of Houston equal rights ordinance with several technical amendments and Gallegos amendment related to private employment.
- Under these terms, the Partnership feels that the equal rights ordinance is a balanced proposal reflecting the interests of all parties and should be approved by City Council on Wednesday, May 14.
- GHP is committed to assisting our members and fellow Houston residents to fully understand the ordinance, which if approved by City Council, will go into effect in 30 days. If you have any questions regarding the ordinance and how it impacts you, please email EqualRights@houston.org
Click here to view a copy of the April 21 ordinance draft.
Click here to find a copy of the May 5 ordinance draft.
Click here to view the latest draft as amended on May 14.
To provide feedback on the Partnership’s position regarding the ordinance, please email EqualRights@houston.org .
Today, civic, business and community leaders gathered at City Hall this morning at 10:30am to announce proposed changes to the Equal Rights Ordinance. GHP supports this change and believes it should encourage strong support from the City Council and Houston’s communities.
Click here for a copy of GHP President and CEO, Bob Harvey’s, statement.
Recent Media Coverage
Proposed ordinance doesn’t create conflict
Parker fuels critics by saying rights debate‘about me’
Council pauses two weeks on equal rights
Mayor drops bathroom provision from nondiscrimination ordinance
Equal rights statute draws out both sides
GHP endorses proposed NDO
Houston Business Journal
Greater Houston Partnership endorses mayor's equal rights ordinance
The Greater Houston Partnership and the Houston business community embrace our region’s rich diversity. In fact, at our annual meeting in February, we outlined the priorities of the Partnership. Our ninth and final priority – the one that is meant to inform the other eight priorities – is to ensure inclusivity and opportunity for all Houstonians. Everyone must have a voice – and everyone must have an opportunity to succeed.
This ordinance is a public statement of what we already embrace: Houston is a welcoming place that values diversity. We believe that inclusivity supports opportunity for all Houstonians, leading to good jobs, personal success and an excellent quality of life.
Each section of the ordinance applies to a specifically-defined set of businesses according to the May 5 draft. The City contracting section applies to those companies engaged in contracts with the City and the fair housing section applies to those offering housing for sale or rent and those involved in various aspects of the associated transactions.
According to the most widely-accessible public data sources, the public accommodations section applies to more than 15,000 businesses in the retail, restaurant, hotel and motel, and banking sectors with a physical location in the city limits. This section applies to several other categories of businesses where figures are not available, so the actual figure is greater.
The employment section of the ordinance would apply to a headcount of more than one million positions in the Houston workforce. As a point of clarification, some have claimed that the employment section would apply to very small portion of businesses operating in the City and attribute that number to Greater Houston Partnership data. This statement erroneously utilizes counts of “establishments” in the city, which is not the same as the number of “businesses.” A business consists of one or more establishments, i.e. bank branches, restaurant chains, etc. An “establishment” may have fewer than 50 employees but collectively, the “business” may have more.
We believe that this ordinance should be workable, give clear direction, is “operational” for business and is respectful of religious beliefs.
Our guiding principles when considering this ordinance were to help create an ordinance that protects the rights of citizens and businesses alike and can be implemented effectively and efficiently by the city.
Yes. Embracing diversity was already commonplace in the Houston business community, so this was something that ultimately made sense to support.
Our members do know, however, that a poorly executed ordinance can undermine good intentions, which is why we are focused on making sure that the final version includes key input from the industry coalition. Our members are motivated by ensuring that Houston remains a great place to live, work and build a business.