Houston Mayor Annise Parker predicted an arduous fight lies ahead to protect citizens from discrimination in America’s fourth largest city.

Prior to her speech to the Florida Democratic Party’s LGBTA Caucus Saturday in Tampa, Parker spoke with SFGN about the city’s efforts to pass an equal rights ordinance. Parker said Houston passed the ordinance in May of 2014.

“We did not add sexual orientation and gender identity we actually passed a ‘from scratch’ ordinance that covers the federally protected characteristics as well as sexual orientation and gender identity,” Parker said. “A group of pastors in Houston did a repeal petition. They failed to meet the standards and they’ve been litigating it since.”

The Texas Supreme Court ruled last week that Houston must ask voters whether the city should have a non-discrimination ordinance. That question goes on a ballot this November.

Houston Unites is a campaign to prevent repeal of the ordinance, known as HERO (Houston Equal Rights Ordinance).

“Houston Unites will talk about how this ordinance provides relief from discrimination in 15 different characteristics, the other side is saying this is the Mayor’s bill to allow sexual predators into women’s bathrooms,” Parker said. “That’s the whole campaign on the other side, it’s going to be ugly, divisive and expensive.”

Parker, 59, is the first openly gay mayor of a major U.S. city. She married her partner of 18 years, Kathy Hubbard, in 2014.


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