Seth Meyers Explains How Misinformation And Lies Defeated Houston's Equal Rights Ordinance

Seth Meyers: “Opponents Of Transgender Equality Are Using The Same Tactics Throughout The Country That They Used In Houston”

From the November 4 edition of NBC's Late Night with Seth Meyers:

SETH MEYERS: Now it was election day yesterday, and residents in Houston voted to repeal a citywide non-discrimination law called the Houston equal rights ordinance, or HERO, which attracted national attention. For more on this story, it's time for “A closer look.” The HERO Law had a wide base of support across the country. President Obama said he supported it, and a long list of companies came out in favor of it, too, including Apple, General Electric and even Hewlett-Packard. Although HP didn't issue a formal statement because they couldn't get their printer to work. So what did the law do? It prohibited discrimination in workplaces, housing and public accommodations, such as bathrooms, on the basis of 15 different characteristics, including race, age, and sexual orientation. But it was gender identity that opponents had a problem with.


MEYERS: That's right, opponents of the law claimed falsely that the bill would allow anyone of any gender to walk into any bathroom they wanted. The idea is known as the “bathroom myth” and the anti-HERO ads focused heavily on it. Let's take a look at one.


MEYERS: So the ads focused exclusively on the bathroom issue even though the law had nothing to do with that. There's also no evidence that this has ever been a problem in places that do have these laws. But unfortunately the ads worked. As one Houston resident told Buzzfeed, “The only thing that I have heard is that it allows men who dress up like women going into the ladies room. If a person woke up one day and said, 'I identify as a woman,' he could just go into the bathroom to see booty.” You know, I've never been in a woman's restroom, but I'm guessing the booties aren't just out for everyone to look at. And if they are, I'm pretty sure you're doing something wrong. Also the restroom is the five minutes of the day you don't want to see the booty. That's when the booty is busy. More importantly, the idea that you could go into a bathroom and do anything other than use the toilet is already illegal in Houston.


MEYERS: Now, it would be wrong to paint Houston as an intolerant city. It's not fair. Houston's three-term mayor and supporter of the law, Annise Parker, is openly gay, so how could a city that elected a gay mayor vote against this law? Well, according to opponents of the law, such as David Welch, a Houston pastor, they made a mistake on that election.


MEYERS: Let that be a lesson. Doze off in church, and you might wake up to a lesbian mayor. “But I just closed my eyes during the hymn.” Doesn't matter, lesbian mayor. So the scare tactics worked. And the Houston law failed, and even worse, opponents of transgender equality are using the same tactics throughout the country that they used in Houston. Just listen to Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee talking about laws like this one earlier this year.


MEYERS: Mike Huckabee, you a creep. For real. Just to clarify -- just to clarify your position, if it had been legal, you would have gone into the locker room to shower with the girls, and you think they would have just stayed. Anyway, if that sounds cool to any of you, he's running for president. Even simple attempts to accommodate transgender people have come under attack. Look at how Fox News reacted last year when Illinois State University wanted to re-label its family bathrooms as gender-neutral bathrooms, using this symbol to accommodate transgender students. Fox went out on the street to try to prove that the new signs were confusing and no one took the bait.


MEYERS: Okay. “Okay, so I think I -- uhh -- I think I made my point. This is Steve Doocy. Can I come back inside now?” At the end of the day, campaigns like the one in Houston are powerful reminders that for LGBTQ people, there's still a lot more work to be done to and fight against both discrimination and terrible cartoons. This has been “A Closer Look.”


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