Anti-HERO Ordinance Organizer Has a Big Problem With Dallas

As has been made abundantly clear over the last couple of weeks, some Texas Republicans are feeling pretty ... well ... pissy about Dallas changing some language in its 13-year-old-plus nondiscrimination ordinance. For the most part, they — here's looking at you state Senator Don Huffines, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and Governor Greg Abbott — seem to think a change in wording the City Council unanimously approved created a whole new ordinance that has something to do with letting men use women's restrooms.

That's not true, of course. The word restroom appears nowhere in the ordinance, and Dallas hasn't had any sort of widespread bathroom problem in the last decade. The change just clarifies the ordinance to acknowledge that transgendered and gay are not the same things. But if you think a little thing like reality is going to keep grandstanders from grandstanding, you need to wake up and smell the red meat.

Dallas voters approved similar LGBTQ protections to the city charter as recently as last year. Dallas isn't Houston, which saw its own nondiscrimination ordinance, HERO, knocked down in a landslide vote after the Houston City Council passed it unilaterally. Dallas values its LGBTQ protections, which has a lot to do with why Jared Woodfill, former chairman of the Harris County GOP and current candidate for chairman of the Texas GOP, is throwing such a fit over the 2016 Texas GOP convention being held in Big D. Wednesday morning, he fired off a memo on his website

The Dallas City Council recently voted to allow men in women's bathrooms as a direct rebuke to the vote on the Houston Bathroom Ordinance that was rejected (61% to 39%) overwhelmingly by the citizens of Houston. The Dallas City Council's message is compounded by the fact that Dallas made the decision to embrace men in women's bathrooms only a week after the Houston vote. The message they sent could not be clearer. I believe it is time to take a principled stand and send a message to the Dallas City Council that they should not profit economically from Texas Republicans with their outrageous contempt for our traditional values and spurning the voice of Texans who fought against and won their cause in a fair and free election. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, Senator Don Huffines and numerous others are taking a stand against the Dallas "Bathroom Ordinance."

Dallas officials have made it clear that they believe the Dallas Bathroom Ordinance will take convention business from Houston because Houstonians recently rejected the Houston Bathroom Ordinance. Phillip Jones, CEO of the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau, recently indicated that he feared the repeal of HERO in Houston could hurt the entire state when it comes to booking national conventions. Mr. Jones further stated, HERO's defeat could allow Dallas — which recently launched an LGBT tourism campaign called "All Love is Big Love" — to lure conventions away from Houston. Jones stated that that the city's new slogan was, “Dallas: Aren't You Glad We're Not Houston."

By keeping our RPT Convention in Dallas, we are embracing and supporting the mentality embraced by Phillip Jones and the LGBT political movements attempt to take convention business from cities like Houston who believe men should not be allowed to enter women's restrooms. Why would we as a Republican Party embrace this agenda? Shouldn't we be taking a principled stand against it and moving our Republican dollars to a venue that respects our values and beliefs?

The thing is, Huffines and radio yakker Mark Davis are the only notable local Republican voices who have declared that the city has done anything to disrespect the manly values so on display in Houston. Dallas City Council member Lee Kleinman, who serves in a nonpartisan role on the council but isn't what anyone would call a liberal, penned an op-ed for the Texas Tribune staunchly defending the ordinance. Dallas County Republican party chairman Wade Emmert, who didn't return a call to comment for this story, hasn't said anything. As Kleimann said in the Tribune:

"More than 13 years later, a handful of people — many of whom either don't live in Dallas or only get their news from commentators who have never been to Dallas City Hall — are suddenly concerned about this ordinance. Yet, all laws prohibiting lewd behavior are intact and enforced. Concerns are fueled by misinformation. Infatuations with public restrooms are obfuscation of a deep-rooted hatred of diversity."

Woodfill helped orchestrate the obfuscation campaign that killed HERO — framing the vote in Houston as being about bathrooms when it was actually about protecting all of the city's residents equally. Rudy Oeftering, vice president of the LGBTQ friendly Metroplex Republicans, says Woodfill's campaign was also about lying.

"I'm at the point of saying, Jared, there is a process in Dallas for you to come and bring your Houston lies to Dallas and there's a way for you to get it on the ballot by May. Come up here and try it. See what the results are in Dallas," Oeftering says.
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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young