Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, never shy about his anti-gay beliefs, stepped into the debate over HERO by blasting Mayor Annise Parker and dropping $70,000 on a nasty ad against the non-discrimination ordinance.
"City of Houston Prop 1 is not about equality – that's already the law. It's about allowing men in women's locker rooms and bathrooms," Patrick says in the 30-second spot. (Watch below) "No woman should have to share a public restroom or locker room with a man. I haven't found anyone who thinks they should."
Patrick arrived in Houston to tout the ad and slam Parker during a press conference on Monday. Via the Houston Chronicle:
At a news conference Monday in Houston, Patrick echoed the chief criticism of equal rights ordinance opponents - that the law would allow men to enter women's restrooms - and he blasted Mayor Annise Parker, saying she "ought to be embarrassed" by the ordinance.
The radio and TV ads totaling about $70,000 were paid for by Texans for Dan Patrick. The former Republican state senator from Houston defended his decision to wade into a local issue.
"I think this is an extraordinary circumstance," Patrick said. "This is absurd. Years ago, a decade ago, we would laugh at even thinking about that the people would cast a vote to keep men out of ladies rooms."
Stepping into the battle over HERO by mirroring the misleading, anti-trans rhetoric of opponents is also a likely move by Patrick to bolster his conservative credentials – which were questioned during the legislative session – and throw red meat to his supporters.
Houston Unites, an LGBT group supporting the ordinance, quickly fired back at Patrick and called the ad misleading and full of scare tactics.
Lt Governor Patrick says Proposition 1 “is not about equality. That’s already the law.”
In actuality, Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance made equality the law by protecting all hardworking Houstonians from discrimination. A NO vote on Proposition 1 would eliminate these local protections and leave thousands of Houstonians subject to discrimination. It’s hard to believe we’re still having the same conversation. But the Lt Governor and other opponents of Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance are so bent on overturning our city’s non-discrimination protections, they’ll be pushing these scare tactics until the final ballot is cast.
The group's campaign manager, Richard Carlbom, called Patrick's ad "shocking," according to the Chronicle.
"The lieutenant governor must know it's illegal now - and will always be - to enter the wrong restroom," he said. "The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance doesn't change that. What's shocking is that funders of those opposed to the equal rights ordinance want to roll back protections - in 2015 - of African-Americans, veterans, women, and many other Houstonians."
On Tuesday, the Houston Chronicle said in an editorial that Patrick "perverted the truth" and was "HERO bashing" with his ad.
Dan Patrick has been around Houston long enough for Houstonians to consider him a local figure, and he is, of course, but he's also the lieutenant governor of Texas. As a statewide elected official he's well aware that nine other Texas cities with populations of 100,000 or more provide their residents with the protections afforded by an equal rights ordinance similar to Houston's. He's also aware that not one of those cities - we repeat, not one - has experienced any problems with transgender women lurking in bathrooms waiting to attack little boys or girls. Nevertheless, Patrick is taking to the air waves this week to tell voters that "no woman should have to share a public restroom or locker room with a man."
The lieutenant governor knows that the bathroom argument perverts the truth, which makes his ad campaign nothing more than cheap and cynical political opportunism. He has a few fences to mend with the tea party crowd that put him in office - they feel he wasn't as obstinate and unyielding in Austin as he promised to be - and HERO opposition is a convenient opportunity for him to refresh his tea-party bona fides.