Houston (Harris County) Passes “Ban the Bible” LGBT Policy
The Harris County Commissioner Court on Tuesday voted in favor of new government policy that adds the highly controversial and litigation charged words “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” (SOGI) as special protected classes in the Harris County Personnel and Procedures handbook. With a 3-2 vote on party line, the commissioners voted to add “sexual orientation or gender identity” under sections previously reserved for no discrimination or harassment 3.01 and 4.012 of the Personnel and Procedures policies.
Democrats Rodney Ellis, Adrian Garcia and Linda Hildalgo voted for the LGBT language and Republicans Jack Cagle and Stever Radack voted against the new language. As you may recall, this is the same type of language that was presented in the “Ban the Bible” style bills this past Texas legislative session and were rejected over and over by state legislators, bills that as have been used to punish people who have biblical beliefs on marriage and sexuality.
“Democrat county commissioners are putting politics over common sense policy for the people with their support of this controversial LGBT policy crafted behind closed doors. The lack of transparency on this controversial “Ban the Bible” styled policy is more evidence that it’s wrong to put the government against people of faith. The people of Houston have consistently said “no” to these Ban The Bible policies. This is just more evidence of local governments bypassing public input in order to fulfill their own liberal agendas,” said Jonathan Saenz, President of Texas Values.
The SOGI language the commissioners chose is not in federal law and was rejected in the state legislature this past session. Moreover, residents of Harris County have voted down adding sexual orientation and gender identity language to policies and ordinances citywide in 2014 by a vote of 61-39. The City of Laredo also recently voted to not adopt sexual orientation and gender identity policy when it came up for a council vote. The agenda for the June 25, meeting said the commissioners were adopting a policy that would prohibit discrimination and harassment as compliant with federal and state law. This is false. The board planned to vote on sexual orientation and gender identity language at the request of Harris County Commissioner of Precinct 1, Rodney Ellis who was appointed to the position recently but is up for election on the upcoming county ballot.
Because of the lack of transparency of the agenda, there was no real notice Harris County area residents to testify at the meeting. The vote was taken after only four people addressed the issue.
Adding sexual orientation/gender identity language into law will create threats to religious liberty and allow men into women’s bathrooms and locker rooms. Similar policies were also used in the firing of Atlanta Police Chief, Kelvin Cochran and Georgia Health Department official, Eric Walsh for their religious beliefs on marriage. There have been no record complaints of gay or transgender persons facing discrimination by Harris County. Thus, adding sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes creates special classes and vague causes of action for lawsuits.
What happened at Tuesday’s meeting is the result of politicians putting politics over policy. Countless evidence at the state and federal level has proved that adding sexual orientation and gender identity to laws is bad public policy. Tuesday’s vote is also a result of the recent election of several Democratic office holders in Harris County. Rodney Ellis was not elected, but merely appointed to the Commissioner’s Court to fill a vacancy.
County Judge, Linda Hidalgo – Yes (713-274-7000)
Rodney Ellis, Commissioner Precinct One – Yes (713-274-1000)
Adrian Garcia, Commissioner Precinct Two – Yes (713-755-6220)
Steve Radack, Commissioner Precinct Three – No (713-755-6306)
Jack Cagle, Commissioner Precinct Four – No (713-274-4000)
About Texas Values
Texas Values is the largest statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to standing for faith, family, and freedom in Texas. More information is available at txvalues.org.