The law is the law and must be enforced.
According to the recent ruling on Houston's equal rights ordinance, last week's Texas Supreme Court opinion states:
"…the City Council decided, of its own accord, not to act, disregarding the City Secretary’s certification that the petition had enough signatures. The Charter, however, gives the City Council no discretion to reevaluate the petition; instead, it requires “immediate” action by the City Council following the City Secretary’s certification."
When initially passed, HERO was the law - and should rightly have been enforced by our elected officials - but now that status has been firmly supplanted, and the final direction for our city on this issue is in an unhealthy state of uncertainty. Regardless of the final outcome, the process should be transparent, inclusive and civil with the intention to seek understanding, consensus and common ground.This impartial judgement from our state Supreme Court regarding the status of the Mayor's equal rights ordinance is binding on this municipality and must be enacted. As new facts emerge responsible leadership must respond.
Today I spoke at City Hall and publicly asked our Mayor why the Texas Supreme Court directive on HERO has not been carried out. The equal rights ordinance should be put on the agenda and placed before Houston City Council immediately as required. Every day our leadership delays on this issue, our city becomes more and more divided and imbalanced.
In the spirit of unity and justice, responsible City leadership must be accountable to the people - and to our charter and the rule of law - and the Mayor must allow the Council to act immediately and decide a course of action on this issue, as the ruling demands.
Regardless whether we stand with those who want to repeal this ordinance outright, or if we believe the people deserve a choice and have a right to vote, our city government is responsible for following the directives from our state's justice system and must be held accountable by implementing their ministerial duties.
Leadership is obligated to pursue this course of action, not only to the people for a proper balance of power, but also to our other branches of government at the state and local level - for effective checks and balances on the exercise of government power.
Our strong mayor form of government deems our mayor responsible for executing our city's core functions - and that includes following the law. And we as citizens across our many diverse communities are responsible for holding our elected officials equally accountable. Houstonians deserve responsible leadership accountable to our communities, with unifying goals and an inclusive approach to policymaking.
Today I am proud to stand with my fellow citizens and call for our democratic processes to be put in effect. This is what my "Campaign of Now" is all about - we don't have to wait to be elected to make a difference in Houston. I call on our city council to join in demanding the placement of this item on this week's agenda. The mayor had adequate time and should proceed to do so immediately. Our democratic values demand no less, and for justice to prevail in our city, I call for complete transparency on this matter in full light of public discourse immediately.
Proponents on both sides of the ordinance have been well intentioned, and should at least be able to agree on the principle of the protection of equal rights. How best to achieve those ends has yet to be determined, but should be decided soon. First, however, the mayor must allow the council to debate and vote whether to repeal the ordinance outright or let the voters choose. Either way, Houston must unite and move forward to address our pressing fiscal crisis together.