Houston, we have a problem

This year’s election may have seemed like the calm before the storm, with an eclectic band of misfits set to be put to the ballot next year for president.

In fact, Tuesday felt like the least electiony Election Day ever. It’s supposed to be the day where we exercise democracy and bring about political change — for better or worse. But the day came and went, and absolutely nothing feels different. We were deprived of drama. A day that should be the Super Bowl of politics ended up being quite boring.

Except in Houston, that is.

The city overwhelmingly rejected a bill that would have provided legal protection for discrimination against 15 classes of people, including gays and transgenders. Sounds pretty bad, right? It only gets worse when you learn why it failed.

HEROThe bill, the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, was passed earlier this year by the City Council, but then was put to a referendum after its opponents successfully fought it in court.

The goal of the legislation was to prohibit bias against certain classes of people regarding employment, city contracting and business services. The bill was pushed hard by Houston’s governor, Annise Parker, who is a lesbian.

So why exactly did this bill fail by a wide margin of 61 to 39 percent? Who could be possibly be against discrimination of gays and transgenders?

It’s because opponents of it ran a successful marketing campaign making people believe that if it was passed, some men — specifically sexual predators and pedophiles — would walk into a women’s bathroom, claiming they were gender confused, and target young girls.

Even television ads depicted this radical idea as a fact; saying that if you voted in favor of this law, you are endangering young girls. Heck, the legislation in Houston became known as “The Bathroom Bill.” And it’s absurd.

In any and all circumstances, rape and child molestation are indisputably illegal. So any belief that this law might have brought about a spike in such crimes is ridiculous.

And who was one of the people spewing this nonsense? Former Houston Astros star Lance Berkman. Let’s all hate him forever. Sound good?

“This was a campaign of fear mongering and deliberate lies,” said Parker after the bill failed. “This isn’t misinformation. This is a calculated campaign of lies designed to demonize a little understood minority.”

I honestly wish people would just come out and be honest; that they didn’t want this bill to pass because they don’t believe gay people and transgenders should have equal rights. At least that way, they’re being forthright with their dissent. But to mask it behind some ludicrous idea that were protecting people by voting it down is disingenuous at best.

One can only hope that the next generation will not be so obtuse.

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