- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 4, 2015

HOUSTON (AP) - Supporters of an ordinance that would have established nondiscrimination protections for gay and transgender people in Houston looked to regroup Wednesday after the measure was soundly rejected by voters.

The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance lost on Tuesday by a vote of 61 percent to 39 percent, despite supporters of the measure outspending opponents by a 3-to-1 margin. Here are some answers to questions about the ordinance’s defeat and what might happen in the aftermath of that loss.

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WHY WAS THE ORDINANCE REJECTED BY VOTERS?

Bob Stein, a political scientist at Rice University in Houston, said local elections, which included the selection of a new mayor, prompted a large turnout by Republicans and African-Americans, who both ended up voting against the ordinance.

Stein said voters, particularly African-Americans, would have likely been persuaded to approve the ordinance if they had been presented with the argument that failing to pass the measure could mean potential economic losses, including companies deciding not to relocate to Houston and possible loss of the 2017 Super Bowl in Houston.

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COULD THERE BE ANY FALLOUT FROM THE ORDINANCE’S DEFEAT?

Supporters of the ordinance had warned that failure to pass it could lead to economic boycotts of the city or might endanger plans for Houston to host the Super Bowl in 2017 or the NCAA Final Four in 2016. The NFL said Wednesday the ordinance’s defeat will not affect the league’s plans for the 2017 Super Bowl.

Mike Waterman, president of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the NCAA has indicated the Final Four will remain in Houston in 2016. But the NCAA has indicated if Houston wants to host a Final Four after 2016, one of the factors that will be taken into consideration is whether the city has some sort of equal rights ordinance in place, he said.

On Wednesday, one customer who had booked the convention center for an event expressed concerns in the wake of the ordinance’s defeat, but Waterman said officials were able to reassure that individual.

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WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR THE GAY RIGHTS MOVEMENT LOCALLY AND NATIONALLY?

The ordinance’s supporters, including outgoing Houston Mayor Annise Parker, vowed they would continue pushing for its approval. But with Parker ending her final two-year term, it’s unclear if the new mayor and City Council will take up the issue.

Bob Harvey, president and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership, an influential business group in the city, said the business community remains committed to an equal rights ordinance but local leaders need to help the public have a better understanding of the gender identity issues that are addressed in the ordinance before going forward.

Opponents of Houston’s ordinance alleged it would allow male sexual predators to go into women’s restrooms. LGBT rights activists say they are bracing for opponents across the country to make the same argument in their campaigns.

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Follow Juan A. Lozano on Twitter at www.twitter.com/juanlozano70 .

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