Houston Equal Rights &
Non-Discrimination Ordinances
The History, Pre-HERO

click for 2001 history
click for the new history, 2015

A Quick Summary:

June 19, 1984. Two non-discrimination ordinances (introduced by Councilmember Anthony Hall) were passed by City Council.
January 1985. Referendum was held on the ordinances, and the anti-gay forces defeated them by a 4 to 1 margin.
November 1985. Empowered by their win the "Straight Slate" is formed with an anti-gay platform, and is only narrowly defeated in the fall elections.
February 16, 1998. Newly elected Mayor Brown issues executive order banning discrimination based on sexual orientation for city employees. Two weeks later Straight Slate leader Richard Hotze files lawsuit against the ordinance.
January 2001. Domestic partner benefits are considered by City Council but the immediate backlash prompt Brown (and City Council member Annise Parker) to present instead a non-discrimination ordinance for city employees, passed on July 25. Long-time opponent Dave Wilson mounts referendum effort for November, easily gaining enough signatures to place it on the ballot.
November 6, 2001. The anti-gay forces won by 2 percent.
May 28, 2014. Mayor Parker and City Council passed the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), starting the fight anew.
June 27, 2014, the ordinance took effect
July 2014, area pastors organized a petition drive, turning in 31,000 signatures...17,269 were required to get on the ballot.
Only 15,249 signatures were ruled valid, do the petition lost, and the opposition filed a lawsuit
January 2015 saw a jury trial with the outcome verifying that the petition was invalid
The opponents then took the case to the (conservative) Texas Supreme Court, which ignored the previous
results and ruled the ordinance should be on the ballot for November

The opposition won 63% to 37%, a crushing defeat

1984 & 1985 Clippings - This Page

click for 2001


Patrick McIlvain in front left

Above two scans courtesy of Brandon Wolf


In January 1985 Houston City Councilmember George Greanias
(District C) recorded a PSA urging votes for the referendum.
This was aired on KPFT's show Wilde-N-Stein

Download/Listen, 0:52 seconds

below, from 11"x18" poster

images above courtesy of Brandon Wolf

The Aftermath



On to 2001