Common Sense Wins in Houston as Men are Not Allowed in Women’s Bathrooms
The people of Houston took to the polls last week to vote on a bill known as HERO (Houston Equal Rights Ordinance). HERO was billed as an anti-discrimination ordinance protecting LGBT people from being discriminated against for their sexual orientation.
But this bill was much more than that.
To understand why the people of Houston were voting on this bill we have to go back a little. Earlier this year the Texas Supreme Court ordered Houston to either remove HERO or allow the people to vote on it. HERO was first put in place by Houston Mayor Annise Parker. While trumpeting HERO Parker was met with opposition by local pastors that saw the measure as a threat to religious freedom. Parker responded by subpoenaing their sermons! That chilling act sent shock-waves across the country. The Texas Supreme Court then ruled that Parker must either remove HERO or allow the city to vote on the measure.
Parker certainly did not want to let the people vote on the measure. As one article reports:
“This is what the mayor was afraid of. This is why she tried so hard to keep it from the people, because she knew if the people had an opportunity to exercise their voice on this through their vote, they would overwhelmingly reject it.”
But this is common. Unpopular laws that politicians know have no chance of succeeding are often kept from the ballot. That’s not democracy, that’s tyranny. And in recent years it seems that tyranny has become common place in American law.
What does not seem to be so common is common sense. The HERO ordinance would have allowed transgender people to use whatever bathroom, shower, locker room, or facility they chose. This means, in very simple terms, that any person can claim to be any gender they want in order to gain access to the facility they want. To put it plainly, men, particularly sexual predators would have immediate access to women’s bathrooms, showers, and locker rooms.
George Washington Law School professor John Banzhaf put the measure in perspective by noting that women would see it as an invasion of their “sexual privacy.” He said:
“According to what my students tell me, the problem with coed restrooms isn’t privacy as much as it is physical safety. Female students who might not hesitate even a moment to share a restroom with male students during heavy-use time during the day are concerned that, if they have to go at night, a guy could be lurking there — completely lawfully under the Houston ordinance — intent on sexual assault or rape when she could literally be caught with her pants down. With traditional men’s and women’s rooms, the woman would immediately exit the restroom she was entering if she saw a man inside, and probably call the police. But, under the new ordinance, nothing could be done if the man claims that he believes himself to be a woman trapped in a man’s body, and so she would have no choice but to share a restroom with a male stranger.”
I’m not sure the problems with HERO could be more easily stated. And when one considers the far-reaching implications – school locker rooms, dorms, public gyms and bathrooms – it’s hard to see how this bill could find any support. Any man with a daughter should have found it very easy to vote against this bill. The protection and privacy of all women was at stake.
But perhaps more troubling than the bill itself was the reaction of Mayor Parker and her allies in the wake of defeat. Rather than realizing that the people have spoken, the people they serve, they responded in a manner than resembles a tyrant. Parker said:
“I guarantee that justice in Houston will prevail. This ordinance, you have not seen the last of. We’re united. We will prevail.”
Wait a minute. The people of the city voted to reject HERO. The people that Mayor Parker serves have taken part in the democratic process to let Parker and city leaders know they reject HERO and yet Parker sounds like a petty tyrant that didn’t get her way. That should be far more concerning to residents of Houston and I hope they keep it in mind when it’s time to elect a mayor.
Parker also implied that she and others would encourage the NFL to move the Super Bowl from Houston in 2017, where it was scheduled to be located. In addition, Parker said she believes there will be “direct economic backlash” as a result of the vote. She said:
“I absolutely fear that there will be a direct economic backlash as a result of this ordinance going into defeat and that’s sad for Houston.”
What economic backlash is she referring to? Has she been planning behind the scenes to stage an economic riot if HERO lost? Is that really the America we want to live in, where political personalities hold their own cities (and people) as economic hostages in their economic terror campaign? Unless Parker has been planning for an economic backlash I can’t imagine anything happening that would be felt by the average citizen. Regardless of any real or perceived economic implication, the moral imperative behind protecting women’s privacy should always take precedence.
The blunt observation of Law School professor John Banzhaf is a sentiment shared by a majority of people in Houston and, I believe, across the country:
“Blacks, Jews, and even gays do not require or even seek separate restrooms or other different treatment; they ask simply to be treated like everyone else. But transgender people demand a special accommodation, not available to others, because of how they feel, and regardless of how typical women might feel about a person with a penis sharing their restroom.”
The bottom line here is that allowing a person that is not a biological man or woman to have free access to facilities of the opposite sex is a dangerous endeavor. Already a university in Canada has repealed their version of HERO in the wake of peeping incidents that have violated women’s privacy. Even proponents of the measure admitted that it didn’t work and posed a privacy and safety risk for women. Maybe they can get together with the folks in Houston to show them what a bad idea HERO really is.
I’m glad that common sense won the day in Houston. As a husband and father, if I lived in Houston I would breathe a sigh of relief. But I’m sure the war has just begun in the effort to further blur gender lines and create special accommodations for transgender people. Hopefully common sense will continue to prevail.