After a marathon 11-hour debate,
Houston City Council on Wednesday approved an ordinance which expands
anti-bias protections for the LGBT community.
Mayor Annise Parker last month
introduced the Equal Rights Ordinance, which prohibits discrimination
in the workplace, housing and public accommodations on the basis of
several factors including sexual orientation and gender identity.
The measure calls for steep fines for businesses found guilty of
discriminating against someone based on race, religion or sexual
According to Click2Houston.com,
more than 200 people testified before City Council approved the
ordinance with an 11-6 vote.
Parker, who is openly gay, applauded
passage: “This is not the most important thing I have done or I
will do as mayor. But it is the most personally satisfying and most
personally meaningful thing that I will do as mayor.”
Outside City Hall, dozens rallied
against the measure, holding signs which read “Say No ERO” and
“Human Rights Ordinance All Fairy Tales No Facts.”
Opponents have vowed to repeal the
ordinance at the ballot box. They have 30 days to collect the more
than 17,000 signatures needed to put the issue before voters in
Houston was the largest U.S. city
without such a law.