Houston activists urge action after nondiscrimination ordinance fails

HOUSTON -- The city of Houston voted 61 percent to 39 percent against an ordinance that would ban discrimination in 15 different categories including housing, employment, and city contracts based on age, sex, military status or gender identity.

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Gender identity overwhelmed the issue.

The ballot measure was called the Houston equal rights ordinance, but opponents dubbed it the "bathroom law," and made the name stick through a series of ads that claimed women and children would become vulnerable to sexual predators in ladies rooms.

"Protect women's privacy -- prevent danger -- vote no on the proposition one bathroom ordinance. It goes too far," is heard on one commercial punctuated by the image of a little girl and the sound of a door being slammed.

The ordinance made no mention of bathrooms. But it was the inclusion of gender identity that opponents like Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick seized upon.

"You're out of touch with common sense, you're out of touch with common decency," Patrick said.

An opponent of Houston's ballot proposal, called the Houston equal rights measure, holds up a sign targeting Annise Parker, the city's mayor, who is gay. CBSNews.com

Houston Mayor Annise Parker -- who is gay -- had endorsed the measure.

"This is a calculated campaign of lies designed to demonize a little understood minority," Parker said.

Seventeen other states and 200 municipalities including five major cities in Texas have similar language banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

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"We drew a line in the sand, and we said not here not now not in Houston Texas," said Jared Woodfill who organized opposition to the ordinance.

"When the people finally had an opportunity to express their will on it, to show how they felt about it at the ballot box, they overwhelmingly said no to the mayor's personal agenda, they said no to her bathroom ordinance," he said.

Lou Weaver, who is transgender and a community activist said: "Right now, I'm disappointed. But I'm gonna get up and I'm going to continue this fight I'm going to continue to educate about this, and we will win."

The fight over this ordinance may not be over. Already some groups say they intend to urge a boycott of Houston businesses. And that could be significant. Among other things, Houston is in the running to host the 2017 Super Bowl.