A Texas-based toilet company has become the latest business to donate to a campaign that’s lobbying to reject equal rights legislation in Houston.
Buzzfeed reports that, according to campaign finance reports released Monday, Texas Outhouse has donated $5,000 (€4,520) to Campaign for Houston – an initiative urging Houstonians to vote against the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO).
Texas Outhouse has been approached for comment but have not responded to our enquiries.
Early voting has now begun for HERO (Proposition 1) ahead of a 3 November election day. The legislation will give discrimination protection to all regardless of race, gender, veteran status, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or pregnancy.
HERO has the backing of several local and national businesses, including HSBC, Dow Chemical and BBVA Compass.
However, it has been criticized by right-wing groups primarily for the protections it will give to LGBT people. Campaign for Houston has produced campaign materials focusing on the fact that the legislation will allow trans people to use restrooms in accordance with their gender identity.
It calls HERO ‘the Bathroom ordinance’, and has warned that ‘it would force our wives and daughters to share their restrooms, dressing rooms and locker-room showers with men’. It has produced an advert showing a cis-man following a young girl into a restroom cubicle.
The advert has been strongly criticized by Houston’s openly gay mayor, Anise Parker, while Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland said that the advert depicted ‘a crime’, and it would still be a crime even if HERO is passed.
‘Nothing will change about the violation of the law,’ said McClelland. ‘I would expect my officers to follow the law, to arrest that individual, transport them to the police station, conduct an investigation and call the DA or city prosecutor.’
Another group, Faith Family Freedom Fund, this week released a video warning that if HERO is passed, someone who blocks a ‘man’ from entering a women’s restroom could be fined $5,000 dollars.
One of the key donators to Campaign for Houston was Bob McNair, owner of the Houston Texans football team. However, following mounting criticism, he announced earlier this week that he intended to rescind his $10,000 donation to the campaign.
He said that he had initially donated to the campaign because he believed the ordinance needs to be re-written, but was subsequently unhappy with the way that the campaign had portrayed his opposition to the legislation.
Houston City Council originally passed HERO in 2014, but opponents to the legislation were able to amass a sufficient number of signatures to prompt the Texas Supreme Court to ask the City Council to either repeal it or put it to pubic ballot.
A survey of Houstonians conducted this month by KPRC2 News found that 45% planned to voted ‘yes’ to HERO, 20% planned to vote ‘no’, while 20% said they were undecided.
The Campaign for Houston finances reveal that it has raised $337, 270 (€305,000) to help fund its efforts to get a ‘no’ vote. Besides Texas Outhouse, other donators included Trinity Equity Partners and Education Valet. By comparison, Houston Unites, which is supported by Human Rights Campaign and is calling for a ‘yes’ vote, has raised in excess of $3million (€2.7million).