An ordinance that would have established nondiscrimination protections for gay and transgender people in Houston failed to win approval from voters on Tuesday. The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance was rejected after a nearly 18-month battle that spawned rallies, legal fights, and accusations of both religious intolerance and demonization of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. With nearly 95% of precincts reporting, Houston residents had rejected the ordinance by a vote of 61% to 39%. Supporters said it would have offered increased protections for gay and transgender people, as well as protections against discrimination based on sex, race, age, religion, and other categories.
Opponents, including a coalition of conservative pastors, said it infringed on their religious beliefs regarding homosexuality. But in the months leading up to the vote, opponents focused their campaign on highlighting one part of the ordinance related to the use of public bathrooms by transgender men and women that opponents alleged would open the door for sexual predators to go into women's restrooms. Democratic Houston Mayor Annise Parker, who is gay, blamed the rejection by voters on opponents' "bathroom ordinance" campaign, which she called "fear mongering." The state's top two elected leaders—Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, both Republicans—praised the defeat, with Abbott saying the voters "showed values still matter." (The GOP scored a big win in Kentucky.)