HOUSTON -

A petition to repeal the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance fell short of having enough valid signatures to be placed on the ballot, according to the mayor's office.

The ordinance was adopted last month and expands anti-bias protections for gay and transgender Houstonians. The ordinance also provides protection for race, age and religion.

Opponents say they are against it because it allows transgender people to use any public restroom consistent with their gender.

Opponents had the chance to petition to repeal the law, but Mayor Annise Parker and City Attorney Dave Feldman say the petition was ruled to be invalid because not enough signatures met the necessary requirements.

The mayor's office says each signature must be accompanied by the printed name, address, voter registration number or date of birth and the date signed.  Anyone who collected signatures must also have personally signed the petition, and have appeared before a notary to acknowledge under oath that the signatures were made in their presence. 

Using that criteria, the mayor's office says the number of valid signatures totaled 15,249, which is short of the 17,269 required by the City Charter.

That means the ordinance will not be put on the ballot this year or next year.

"I fully expect the petitioners will want to fight this decision at the courthouse," said  Parker.  "I am confident the courts will agree that the rules set out in our Charter and state law to protect the integrity of the process should be followed and that the results of our review will be upheld.  The judicial review will provide additional assurance to the voters that the process has been fair."