This week in our great city, Houston City Council will consider an anti-discrimination ordinance that will provide protections to citizens that are discriminated against because of race, religion, sexual orientation, and even gender identity. What seems as a pretty commonsense piece of legislation has caused a tremendous outpouring of proponents and opponents throughout our city. Proponents say these protections are long overdue, while opponents declare this will expose our children to pedophiles and rapists. I say it’s time that we step into our now and pass this landmark legislation for the greatest city in our country.
It’s unfortunate that this conversation has been masked behind issues like religion and the question of gender identity being a choice or biological. The issue is a simple one for me. In order for Houston to be the great city on the hill that it can be, we must make a moral declaration that no one can being treated unfairly in our utopia. It doesn’t matter if someone is born a certain way or what their lifestyle choices lead them to, no one should be made to feel less than human.
HERO, as it’s being called, will also protect African American Houstonians who for too long have been discriminated against in certain parts of town. As an African American male I have witnessed others not only barred entry into an establishment, but also physically assaulted at the door for refusing to leave after being denied entry. There was no recourse for these young men to seek justice. With Houston being a part of the South, it has a history of segregation that sought to keep our great city from coexisting harmoniously. The remnants of segregation are still alive today and it is evident through the makeup of our neighborhoods. These great divides exist not only in geography but within the minds of those that reside in these historic neighborhoods, as well. HERO will seek to protect citizens from being treated differently regardless of what part of town they choose to live, work, or play.
I can understand some of the concern from the community. As a Christian, I try to practice the principles taught through Holy Scripture daily. Therefore, I can’t ignore the principles of love, tolerance, and equality of my fellow man. I have always stated my belief that the Bible is not a textbook for government; it is a religious document that guides our spiritual beliefs. In a country that is founded on the concept of religious freedom we have to embrace the idea that people have a right to believe what they choose and be who they are. When we begin to challenge the notion of protecting our fellow man from being treated wrongly then it is the opinion of this writer that we have lost our way.
I have stated publicly that I believe this ordinance is the right thing to do for Houston. We are one of the most diverse cities in this great country. We’ve come a long way since the days of segregation, but we have yet to arrive to that place where hate and intolerance no longer exists. There are still too many of our citizens that live in the shadows of our city that often feel that Houston has not treated them as fairly as they would like. These citizens are here, they matter, and they need a HERO.