The progressive press is seething with indignation towards the voters of Houston, Texas, more than 60 percent of whom have rejected a city council ordinance that would allow transgender women (that is, biological males) into women’s restrooms and locker rooms.

More precisely, the media standard bearers for the never-ending sexual revolution are furious with the Campaign for Houston, a group in which pastors featured prominently, for focusing voters’ attention with the slogan, “No men in women’s bathrooms”. Their brisk and effective ad suggested that The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance would provide a cover for sexual predators to threaten the privacy and even safety of women and girls.

“Myths!” lectured Vox. “Hate! Bigotry! Fearmongering!” fumed the New York Times. “Definitely fear,” agreed The Atlantic. 

These are accusations heard time and again in the debate over same-sex “marriage” (a myth if ever there was one) whenever opponents talk about slippery slopes, freedom of conscience, and the consequences for children. Yet there is hard evidence to support these misgivings.

The oracles mentioned above maintain that there is not a whit of evidence that women are in any danger from trans women using the women’s bathroom. To quote Vox:

But as Media Matters’s Carlos Maza pointed out, experts from 12 states that protect trans rights have thoroughly refuted this talking point. There’s not a single reported instance of this kind of voyeurism occurring in states with legal protections for trans people.

And how long have these states been protecting “rights” that most of us had never given a moment’s thought to up until five minutes ago?

It is early days on this particular sexual front, but even if safety were unlikely to be an issue, so what? Scare-mongering about consequences – not least about the persecution of sexual minorities – is a standard tactic of politics. It is fair enough to use it in this instance to buy time for public debate on yet another claim for political protection.

The fact is that Houston’s lesbian mayor, Annise Parker, and her officials tried to foist recognition of LGBT “rights” on the city by adopting the ordinance without any public input at all. They bundled gender and sexual orientation in with a raft of other qualities – such as race, sex, age, and religion –that were already protected under federal law. They forbade discrimination based even on a person’s “perceived” sexual identity.

 

Houston Mayor Annise Parker

 

When a group of pastors and others gathered thousands of signatures on a petition to either repeal the ordinance or allow voters to decide, Mayor Parker’s administration used every strategy it could to prevent it, attempting to subpoena the pastors’ sermons in the process – a move that brought nationwide criticism.

Five pastors then took the city to court over it, with the result that the Texas Supreme Court in July ordered the council to repeal the law or put it to popular vote.

In the face of the council’s heavy-handed tactics it is no wonder that the Campaign for Houston gained huge traction, resulting last week in a crushing popular defeat for Mayor Parker and her supporters. Strangely, big media seems not to have expected it.

The New York Times editors put the defeat down to the “hateful rhetoric” of leading politicians (notably the governor and lieutenant governor of Texas), a “well-funded campaign” (only progressive issues are allowed to attract money), and “fearmongering, blasted from church pulpits and dramatised in a television ad”.

But, as a supporter of the ordinance admitted to The Atlantic, “What you see in Houston is a reaction to a national climate where” same-sex couples can now marry. “And that fight to secure the freedom to marry took a significant amount of public education, and I think that’s where we’re today.”

The point being that the public needs time to consider such revolutionary ideas and to inform themselves, one way or another. The rush to bring every sexual proclivity under the protection of the law without such “education” is simply undemocratic.

Vigorous opposition to a move whose consequences are hard to predict is not bigotry but common sense. According to The Atlantic, opponents of the so-called HERO ordinance have said they would support a proposal that includes exemptions for bathrooms and locker rooms. In other words, they are not against social protection for LGBT people in employment, housing and so on.

Houston’s (outgoing) mayor, and the Times’ editors, want every accommodation for the feelings of sexual minorities but no accommodation for the sensibilities of ordinary people. They want it fast and they want it by the exercise of raw power. The Times notes with satisfaction that the Department of Education stepped into a school restroom and locker room dispute last week to support a transgender student – “the federal government’s latest action in a civil rights movement that is redefining how the nation views, and treats, transgender Americans.”

If your “movement” does not have the patience to engage the whole political community, then federal government decrees are the way to go. Better still, the Supreme Court. 

Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is the former deputy editor of MercatorNet