Critics of Houston equal rights ordinance speak out

By Syan Rhodes - Anchor/Reporter

HOUSTON - Houstonians could soon learn if efforts to repeal Houston's controversial equal rights ordinance will have voters heading to the polls.

Friday, the city attorney updated council members on the process to verify more than 35,000 signatures collected by opponents of the measure who want a referendum on the November ballot.

There are 5,199 pages of documents to pour over and the city secretary is checking to see that each person who signed the petition is a Houston resident and registered to vote in the city.

The non-discrimination ordinance offers protections to gay and transgender Houstonians -- a group that is not covered by current federal anti-discrimination laws.
Opponents say they are against it because it allows transgender people to use any public restroom consistent with their gender.

City council members say they just want to make sure the process is transparent.

"We want people to be informed, it's a big change in our society anytime you pass a regulation that establishes a different relationship between particular class of people and government it's a big change," said District G councilman Oliver Pennington.

If more than 17,000 signatures are valid, the issue to go on a ballot as soon as November 2014 and no later than November 2015.

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