An online petition asking the NFL to revoke the2017 Super Bowl in Houston launched Tuesday, shortly after voters there rejected a measure banning discrimination based on sexual orientation andgender identity.
The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance was backed by local businesses and outgoing Mayor Annise Parker, the first open lesbian to be elected as mayor of a major U.S. city, while prominent Republicans and Christian pastors rallied against the proposal.
It would have preventeddiscrimination for anindividual’s sexual orientation and gender identityin city employment and city services, city contracts, public accommodations, private employment and housing.
Some conservative Christians saw it as an attack on their religious liberties, and many opponents focused on a small part of the ordinance concerning the use of public bathrooms by transgender men and women. They also said it could allow for sexual predators in public restrooms.
Parker said after the vote, that the defeat may have hurt the city’s reputation.
“This was a campaign of fear mongering and deliberate lies,” she said.
Though the measure garnered support from liberal groups and business leaders, 61 percent of voters were against it.
“As we work to attract businesses and talented professionals to our region, they have made clear that they are seeking a community that is welcoming, diverse and inclusive,” said Bob Harvey, president and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership.
Following the measure’s defeat, a petition to the Obama administration aims to “pressure the NFL to remove the Super Bowl from Houston in February 2017 due to lack of Equal Rights Ordinance.”
“Due to the over reach of the Texas State Legislature, blatant lies of members of the Houston community and recent defeat of the Equal Rights Ordinance on the ballot election of November 3, 2015, we ask that the NFL rescind the awarding of the Superbowl to Houston, Texas for 2017. The lack of protections for all Houstonians and visitors to the city warrant that the NFL find a more suitable, inclusive host for the 2017 Superbowl,” a descriptionfor the online petition reads.
The petition is looking to gather 100,00 signatures by Dec. 3, and so far has 496.
“The Super Bowl is slated to come in 2017, and there are rumblings of plans to ask the NFL to move and go elsewhere in support of LGBT people and other groups HERO would have protected,” John LaRue, aHouston attorney who ran for City Council and led a campaign to support the ordinance, told ABC News.”I also talked to some people last night, and we’re planning to create a voluntary system and group made of people who, while not obligated by City Hall, will still choose to enforce HERO’s protections in their businesses.”
But so far, the NFL is sticking to its game plan.
“This will not affect our plans for Super Bowl LI in 2017, the NFL said ina statement releasedto KPRC 2. “We will work closely with the Houston Super Bowl Host Committee to make sure all fans feel welcomed at our events. Our policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard.”
Reuters contributed to this report