A week after Houston voters shot down a similar measure known as the HERO, the Dallas City Council took steps to expand protections for all gender identities this week, including access to public bathrooms. It’s a move that’s garnered harsh criticism from state officials.
“This ludicrous ordinance, like the one in Houston, reveals officials who are totally out of touch with Texas values, I have no doubt that if this issue is put to the voters, as opposed to being decided without adequate public notice and discussion, the people of Dallas – like those in Houston – will give it a resounding ‘no,’” Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick sent out in a media blast this morning.
It was a sentiment certain city councilmembers didn’t agree with. East Dallas Councilman Philip Kingston responded on his Facebook page saying, “Dan Patrick is engaging in demagoguery, and he’s lying. Incidentally, any Houston folks who feel uncomfortable there because of the recent HERO vote, please come to Dallas. We’ll be happy to have you.”
On paper, it seems like a small change, adding the words “and gender identity” to a 2002 ordinance that provided protection from discrimination for sexual orientation (read the ordinance here). But it’s implication hit on a hot button issue that’s been debated across the country: should transgender people be allowed to use the bathroom of the sex they identify with in public places?
In Houston, the HERO law would have provided the same protections the Dallas ordinance allowed, sparking a heated campaign with the opposition rallying behind the battle cry “No men in women’s bathroom.”
Preston Hollow councilman Lee Kleinman says it’s not about rights, not restrooms, telling the Dallas Morning News “This is not a bathroom ordinance, it is an anti-discrimination ordinance update.”
Sen. Don Huffines, who represents a swath of North Dallas, said the council “rushed through and passed an LGBT ordinance that is potentially as bad as (if not worse than) what voters soundly rejected in Houston … We must have more careful review and thoughtful discourse on this proposal to make sure it doesn’t allow men in women’s restrooms, or worse.”
Those claims were rebuffed by Kingston, who said the council has been considering this decision for more than a year, and had thoughtfully weighed the potential impacts of the new ordinance. On Twitter, he posted a link to Huffines claims with these words for the state official: “Went through a year of public discussion and makes no change to the existing public policy of Dallas. Stop lying. [sic]”
He later emphasized his point on Facebook saying, “That’s been the law in Dallas since 2002. I voted to recognize that gender ID is different from sexual orientation.”