- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Houston Mayor Annise Parker wasn’t exactly gracious in defeat, accusing those who opposed the city’s transgender-rights ordinance of “deliberate lies” and predicting the city’s economy would suffer as a result of the measure’s repeal.

In remarks shortly after Tuesday’s balloting, Ms. Parker blamed the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance’s lopsided loss on “a very small but determined group of right-wing ideologues and the religionist right” for waging “a campaign of fear-mongering and deliberate lies.”

The ordinance, named Proposition 1 on the city ballot, lost by 62 to 38 percent despite the strong support of national gay-rights organizations, who poured millions into the local campaign, as well as pro-business groups.

“And truly, unfortunately, I fear that this will have stained Houston’s reputation as a tolerant, welcoming global city, and I absolutely fear that there will be a direct economic backlash as a result of this ordinance going into defeat,” Ms. Parker said in a video posted on KHOU-TV. “And that’s sad for Houston and sad for all of us.”

The ordinance, passed by city council in 2014, gave protected class status based on 15 characteristics, including race, ethnicity, gender, age and religion, as well as sexual orientation and gender identity. Most of those are already listed under federal and state law.

Ms. Parker, the first openly lesbian mayor of a major U.S. city, said the voters’ rejection of Proposition 1 puts Houston out of step with other jurisdictions, arguing that 17 states and 200 cities have passed similar measures.

But Houston’s ordinance went beyond other anti-discrimination codes by adding penalties and fines of up to $5,000 for anyone who tries to stop someone from using a public restroom that corresponds with their gender identity.

The opposition drove home that point with the slogan, “No Men in Women’s Bathrooms,” and an explosive television ad showing a man cornering a little girl in a bathroom stall.

The fight over the ordinance comes with Ms. Parker, who is term-limited, poised to leave office after voters select a replacement in December from the top two finishers in Tuesday’s balloting, state Rep. Sylvester Turner and former Kemah mayor Bill King.

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a Republican who filmed an ad opposing Proposition 1, told supporters after the vote that he was “disappointed that the mayor could not be gracious tonight.”

“I’m disappointed that in her waning hours of being in office, she’s still divisive,” Mr. Patrick said. “But mayor, you’re wrong. And the people of Texas … and Houston have made it very clear this is not the kind of city that they want to live in.”

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