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Defeat of Houston LGBT-Rights Measure May Have Broad Impact

(AP) The landslide defeat of a nondiscrimination ordinance in Houston has stunned LGBT-rights activists across the nation. They're now bracing for their opponents in other states to seize on the successful tactic of stoking fears over transgender people's access to public restrooms.

By a 61-to-39-percent margin, voters in America's fourth largest city on Tuesday rejected a broad equal-rights ordinance - extending protections in employment, housing and public spaces on the basis of race, sexual orientation, gender identity and other categories. Opponents prevailed with a campaign that dubbed the measure "the bathroom ordinance" and raised the specter of male sexual predators invading women's restrooms.

The ordinance lost despite strong support from many major businesses, and despite its supporters' arguments that serious problems with bathroom access have been virtually nonexistent in the 17 states and scores of cities that have banned discrimination against transgender people in public accommodations.

The outcome in Houston was swiftly seized upon by opposing sides in California, where the legislature passed a law in 2013 allowing transgender students to participate in activities and use facilities corresponding to their gender identity. Opponents are gathering signatures for a 2016 ballot measure that would overturn the law and require people to use facilities that correspond with their "biological sex."

Karen England of Privacy for All, which is promoting the ballot measure, noted that in both Houston and California there were efforts to prevent a public vote on the nondiscrimination issue.

"Houston elites were afraid to let the voters vote, and they had good reason to be," England said. "We think California elites have similar reason to be afraid."

England's group and its allies are seeking to collect 500,000 signatures by Nov. 20 to ensure they have enough valid signatures to qualify for the November 2016 ballot.

White House Weighs in on LGBT-Rights Measure's Defeat

(AP) The White House says the defeat this week of an ordinance that would have established nondiscrimination protections for gay and transgender people in Houston isn't "going to set back the broader trend toward greater equality and justice in this country."

The White House had been one of the high-profile supporters of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance.

Supporters said it would have offered increased protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, as well as protections against discrimination based on sex, race, age, religion and other categories. Opponents alleged it would have allowed male sexual predators to go into women's restrooms.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Thursday that opponents were more interested in "a political tactic that diverted attention from the true intent of the ordinance."

Ben Carson Calls for Restroom Segregation for Transgender People

(EDGE) 2016 GOP presidential hopeful Ben Carson suggested creating transgender bathrooms in an interview Thursday with Fusion's Jorge Ramos.

Questioned about Houston voters' rejection of a law banning LGBT discrimination this week, Carson said: "How about we have a transgender bathroom?"

"It is not fair for them to make everybody else uncomfortable," Carson said of transgender people. "It's one of the things that I don't particularly like about the [LGBT] movement. I think everybody has equal rights, but I'm not sure that anybody should have extra rights -- extra rights when it comes to redefining everything for everybody else and imposing your view on everybody else."

In Houston, voters rejected the equal rights measure on Tuesday after what many saw as a transphobic campaign that focused on which bathrooms transgender people used. The law wasn't just about LGBT people but also prevented discrimination based on sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, familial status, marital status, military status, religion, disability, sexual orientation, genetic information or pregnancy.

"The way this country was designed was live and let live," Carson said, as he sipped a tall glass of orange juice in Miami's Moonlite Diner. "I feel, gay people, they can do anything they want."

"But you're against gay marriage," Ramos pointed out. "I believe marriage is between a man and a woman," Carson said.

"But I don't care what somebody else thinks. They can do whatever they want. What I object to is they try to change the definitions for everybody."

The interview was streamed live on Facebook -- the first time an anchor has conducted a sit-down interview with a presidential candidate via the Facebook Live feature.


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