Lance Berkman says the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (H.E.R.O.) will allow “troubled men” to enter women’s bathrooms to do… scary things:
In the ad campaign, Berkman urges opposition to Proposition 1, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity as well as gender, race, national origin, religion, pregnancy, and a list of other traits included in federal anti-discrimination law.
He explains that he’s against the ordinance because of one equal-access application, saying as a father of four daughters he does not want “troubled men to enter women’s bathrooms, showers and locker rooms.”
On Friday from Busch Stadium, he elaborated on his stance to the Post-Dispatch, saying he would never want to discriminate against anyone.
He said he was not applying the term “troubled men” to transgender people. “That language refers to that scenario or a voyeur — somebody who goes into a women’s bathroom and just likes to look at people. That to me is troubled.”
For members of the transgender community here, it sounded like backpedaling.
“It sounded pretty ignorant,” said Stephanie James, 65, of Maryland Heights, who had her gender reassignment surgery in 2009.
James, speaking on Saturday, said the problem is even when Berkman tried to smooth things over it was “all under the misbelief, the misapprehension that a lot of people have that this will allow weirdos and creeps into the restroom and so forth, when they’ve always been able to get in anyway.”
KTRK looked into the claim, and found that the anti-H.E.R.O., anti-“alternative lifestyle” campaigners are, shall we say, living in an alternative reality:
The ordinance does prohibit discrimination against transgendered Houstonians, but Eyewitness News looked deeper at the claims that this could open women’s bathroom doors. It has been against the law in Houston to use the opposite sex’s bathroom to cause a disturbance for decades.
A City of Houston ordinance passed in June of 1972 says:
It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly and intentionally enter any public restroom designated for the exclusive use of the sex opposite to such person’s sex without the permission of the owner, tenant, manager, lessee or other person in charge of the premises, in a manner calculated to cause a disturbance.
(Code 1968, 28-42.6; Ord. No. 72-904, 2, 6-2-72)
A former Houston City Attorney told Eyewitness News anything other than using the toilet could be characterized as “causing a disturbance.”
The law remains in effect. It was most publicly challenged in 1990 when a woman at a George Strait concert used the men’s room at the Astrodome. She was charged with violating that section, and according to news accounts at the time, it took a Houston jury just 23 minutes to acquit her. One juror told the New York Times, “She just did what she had to do.”
A few days later, and Carlos Correa just smashed Lance Berkman’s record for most homers in a rookie season:
Lance Berkman’s 2000 season with 21 home runs set the current mark before Friday. Berkman hit 21 home runs in 114 games, and Correa has reached 22 in 97 games — most of it before he turned 21 years old.
Now that’s what I call a hero!
Houston voters: consider this your daily reminder to vote early on October 19th YES on Proposition 1.
For near-daily updates on H.E.R.O., see the indispensable TransGriot. Hat tip to Cristan Williams for the note about KTRK’s reporting.