Houston Mayor Annise Parker

(HOUSTON) — Houston may be the fourth largest city in America, but it’s the only major city in the country that doesn’t have civil rights protections for residents.

After more than two months of collaborative discussions with various stakeholders, Houston Mayor Annise Parker released a draft of her proposed Equal Rights Ordinance on Monday.

“As I stated in my State of the City Address earlier this month, the Houston I know does not discriminate, treats everyone equally and allows full participation by everyone in civic and business life,” Parker said. “We don’t care where you come from, the color of your skin, your age, gender, what physical limitations you may have or who you choose to love. It’s time the laws on our books reflect this.”

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Parker’s plan would prohibit discrimination in city employment, city contracting, housing, public accommodations and private employment at businesses with at least 50 employees. Religious organizations would be exempt in order to avoid First Amendment issues.

Under the ordinance, the Houston Office of Inspector General and the city attorney would handle violation complaints. If an employer refused to cooperate, the city attorney could ask the city council to issue a subpoena.

If approved, the ordinance also gives the mayor discretion to create an advisory task force to study and report on matters related to the ordinance.

Parker plans to present the draft ordinance to the Houston City Council Quality of Life Committee on April 30. Consideration by the full council is scheduled for May 7.

To view the ordinance, go to

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Mayor Annise Parker Releases Draft of Equal Rights Ordinance  was originally published on

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