Opponents of LGBT rights are looking to
expand on their victory in Houston by blocking passage of a similar
bill in Jacksonville, Florida.
Houston voters earlier this month
repealed the city's LGBT-inclusive anti-bias law that prohibited
discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations based
on more than a dozen characteristics. Opponent who forced the law
onto the ballot succeeded with the misleading message that it would
give sexual predators pretending to be women access to women's
restrooms. Many politicians, including Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a
Republican, repeated the false claim.
“No men in women's bathrooms,” he
said in a tweet calling on Houston voters to repeal the law.
As Jacksonville begins debate on
whether to extend its existing Human Rights Ordinance to include
sexual orientation and gender identity, echoes from Houston's debate
can be heard.
“It's a fact of life that predators
attack women and children in bathrooms; it happens everywhere,”
Roger Gannam, a lawyer and former resident, said during the first of
three “community conversations” organized by Mayor Lenny Curry's
office on the proposed bill. Such laws, Gannam added, “will make
Mayor Annise Parker called such claims “fear mongering.”
More than 200 cities and 17 states have enacted similar protections
without any evidence of an uptick in such crimes, proponents
A second forum, which will focus on
religious freedom, will take place on Thursday.