Student group works to round up votes for HERO
The Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies student group collaborated with the Houston Unites campaign to gather votes for Proposition 1, or the Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday at the Student Center Satellite.
“(HERO is) a non-discrimination law that was passed last year in our city council, and it’s up for a vote now,” Lena Myers, president of WGSS, said. “It basically protects 15 different classes of people from housing, public places and employment.”
The ordinance, advocated by Mayor Annise Parker, would prohibit discrimination against an individual based on sex, race, ethnicity, national origin, age, familial status, marital status, military status, religion, disability, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity or pregnancy.
Today was the second to last Tuesday before Nov. 3, when the fate of HERO will be decided.
“Of course I’m nervous, but I think we’re really doing all we can right now,” Myers said. “I had a dream that we won, so maybe that’s a sign.”
A wealth of eligible voters and wish to educate students on voting were reasons why Myers and Houston Unites chose UH to drum up support for HERO.
“A lot of people think that millenials just have no idea what’s going on,” said organizer from Houston Unites Joe Swanson. “They think we’re stupid (and that) we have no care about citizenship and democracy. As soon as you sign up, we will make sure that you know when we’re gonna be (there), where, and we will take you to the polls.”
Swanson said implementing the ordinance would be a logical decision.
“Two hundred cities across the country have passed this,” Swanson said. “Every major city in Texas has passed this, but Houston can’t get their act together? That makes no sense. If we lose, then it’s a knock against the possibility of achieving equality for everyone. It’s basically us saying, ‘We’re okay with having equality for some people in this city, but not others’. That’s not the city I want to live in.”
HERO’s opponents have been displaying concerns for public safety, in particular at restrooms, should the ordinance go into effect.
“It’s not like, all of a sudden, it’s gonna be legal for me to walk into the women’s restroom and assault somebody,” Swanson said. “No, I’m gonna get arrested. We’re still gonna have two bathrooms. Granted, I’d say that (public safety) is a legitimate fear, but I’d also say that you’ve probably been tricked.”
Hotel and restaurant management senior and volunteer at Houston Unites, Zhejun Wang said he hoped that the people will accept HERO.
“We put hard work on this, and we want to make sure everybody in Houston has equal rights,” Wang said. “You don’t need to be scared of anything just because of your religion, your race or gender. If the result is ‘yes,’ we’re very happy, not just for ourselves, but also for other people.”
The early voting poll location is Ripley House on 4410 Navigation Blvd.
CORRECTION: Zhejun Wang was originally identified as she.