Human Rights Campaign Won't Defend Plano Equal Rights Ordinance

Plano's anti-discrimination ordinance is under attacks from all sides. Four local state representatives plan to introduce a bill that will void the ordinance as well as any similar laws passed by other cities. The Texas Pastor Council has collected 7,000 signatures in an attempt to force the Plano City Council to either recall the measure or put it on the ballot in May. Now, the Human Rights Campaign, the United States' largest LGBTQ political advocacy group, has announced that it will not fight to preserve the ordinance.

Cathryn Oakley, the HRC's legislative counsel for state and municipal advocacy, told the Texas Observer that her organization couldn't defend the ordinance because it doesn't provide appropriate protections for transsexual individuals.

Under the law, certain organizations, like nonprofits and schools, are allowed provide different services based on anatomy rather than gender identity. Schools, for example, could require a transsexual teen boy to use the women's restroom or vice versa. The idea that allowing trans individuals to use the bathroom of their choice will lead to trouble or violence is an old, debunked canard of the pro-discrimination set.

"The language in Plano is very problematic and in terms of investing a lot of resources in an ordinance that has a lot of problems, it's difficult to see why that's necessarily the best use of resources. If we had been consulted in the drafting of this bill, we would have withdrawn our support, and given that, it's hard to justify defending it as valid," Oakley said.

Oakley defended the HRC from the claims that have been made by local LGBTQ support organizations that the ordinance is a positive, if incremental step.

"I think the story coming out of Plano is about a city that really wanted to do the right thing, and I wish that this had unfolded differently, because I think that there were good intentions, but things fell apart," Oakley said. "I think incremental process is important, I think municipal work is incredibly important, but incremental doesn't mean leaving part of the community behind. That's not an acceptable version of incremental."

Both Equality Texas and GALA North Texas told the Texas Observer that, while they do not agree with the exemptions, they do plan to fight for the ordinance.

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