Houston: from HERO to ZERO

Anyone know a veteran? What about a woman who’s pregnant? Any elderly persons in your family? A friend or family member who identifies as LGBT? Well, Houston just shat on all of them. The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) went down in flames thanks to ignorance, fear, and hate.

What is it about equality that scares people? Is it that since you’ve been enjoying your first-class citizenship for so long, you’re entirely uncomfortable with sharing equal ground with those who haven’t been so fortunate? Do you completely lack empathy? What if it were you on the other side? Should not every human being have the same rights as every other?

I know that this loss is merely a stumbling block, but nevertheless it’s disappointing. Houston is the largest city in the country without an equal rights ordinance. Houston is also the most diverse city in the country, yet condemning those diverse citizens to remain second-class is apparently higher on the priority list than improving well-being for all.

Opponents of HERO brashly and deceitfully labeled it as nothing more than a “bathroom bill.” Their fear was that, if passed, HERO would allow any man to follow a woman into their bathroom to assault them, just by claiming that he is a woman that day. The fact that that’s what they understand about how gender identity works or how similar equal rights ordinances have worked out in other larger cities (hint: no bathroom shenanigans of the sort, ever) should tell you enough about their completely misguided position on the issue.

HERO sought to protect our veterans, pregnant women, LGBT, elderly, disabled, and others from discrimination. Unfortunately, this equality is put on hold for now, but it’s only a matter of time till reason prevails.

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We can’t call a spade a spade?

Can people have bigoted beliefs but not themselves be bigots? I’ve been seeing a lot of this lately: “I believe all humans are equal, but I still don’t support same-sex marriage.” I would say this doesn’t make any sense. You cannot at the same time support equal human rights while denying a group of people the same rights that everyone else shares. Clearly you’re a bigot if you have such a belief.

Here’s the thing: you have the right to your personal beliefs all you want. Have your beliefs. Form more for all I care, that’s your right. You’re even free to share them with the rest of the world, as freedom of speech is a wonderful thing. Say you share your beliefs with others, what might happen? Maybe others who share your beliefs will agree and support you. Or maybe some others, including myself, will speak out loudly against them, as they see them for what they are: irrational, baseless, unenlightened, unjust, and an imposition to progress.

Have your rights been infringed? Not at all. You’re free to have your bigoted beliefs all you want. Nevertheless, once you choose to materialize those beliefs, whether they be whispered to someone else, shared on Facebook/Twitter, written down, etc, they will stand or fall by their own merit. You’ve now incurred the risk of people either supporting them or speaking out in opposition to them, which is also their right to do so. And just to clarify, ridiculing beliefs is not the same as censorship or persecution.

If your belief is by its own nature bigoted, then I’m doing nothing malicious by calling it as it is. If being a bigot is undesirable to you, then either rid yourself of bigoted beliefs, choose not to share them, or share them only with other bigots, and stop annoying the rest of the enlightened world.