US: Anonymous website posts names and addresses of HERO opponents

Katie Dupere July 30, 2014
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A new, anonymous campaign is posting the names and addresses of Houston Equal Rights Ordinance opponents by releasing petitions submitted against the ordinance online.

The petitions ask the City Council to repeal HERO, which prohibits discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

The petition says “biological males are in fact allowed to enter women’s restrooms” under HERO, which would “threaten the physical and emotional safety of our women and children.”

The faith-based groups who oppose the ordinance submitted boxes of over 50,000 signatures opposed to the ordinance earlier this month, which is more than double the 17,269 required to force a public ballot on the matter.

If the organisations circulating the petition have gathered enough signatures, the council can repeal the ordinance or place it up for a referendum vote.

A Houston city attorney is currently reviewing the signatures to see if the organisations met petition requirements.

However, according to the TransAdvocate earlier this month, signatures for the petition have been collected from people who are not registered voters. This renders such signatures illegitimate.

The website posted the petition online, stating: “We believe in open government, and part of open government is making sure the processes used for citizen governance are used properly – particularly the petition process for calling an ordinance repeal referendum.

“The people who have circulated this petition to take away your rights and deprive you of a local means of addressing discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations, have frequently engaged in dishonest, and sometimes illegal tactics to obtain signatures.

“The petition is being published in the public interest to allow for independent verification of its validity.”

Critics of the website, however, say that releasing the names is an invasion of privacy and could cause harm to signers.

Houston GLBT Political Caucus treasurer and supporter of HERO Noel Freeman told BuzzFeed: “If somebody feels that they’re being publicly shamed by these petitions being online, I think that says more about them than it does about the people who are putting the petitions online.

“If you’re embarrassed that your political views are on public display, then maybe you should rethink your political views.”

A person answering email made by Buzzfeed to the address given on the site said that site organisers are remaining anonymous to protect their personal safety.

The person who wrote Buzzfeed said: “The personal safety risks to the people who run this site are far greater than the risk to any one individual among tens of thousand who signed the petition.

“People who have spoken out publicly in favor of HERO are already facing threats against their jobs.”

Disclosure of referendum petitions does not violate any US or Texas state laws.


Related topics: Americas, hero, Houston, Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, petition, Texas, US

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