By Lisa Maria Garza
DALLAS (Reuters) - The Dallas City Council unanimously approved an amendment to its anti-discrimination ordinance on Tuesday to include protections for transgender people from being denied employment, housing or access to public spaces based on gender identity.
“We’re a very diverse city and we want to make sure everyone is protected,” Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said after the vote. The ordinance had previously included lesbian, gay and bisexual people.
The rewrite removed an exemption from the Dallas city charter that said property owners could deny renting rooms to same-sex couples when a housing facility contains a common bathroom, kitchen or similar facilities that would be shared by all occupants.
Just a week ago, voters in the city of Houston, Texas, rejected the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) by a wide margin, a measure that was aimed at increasing civil rights protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.
The Democratic leaders in Texas cities such as Dallas and Houston have been trying to extend civil rights protections, which are not guaranteed under state law, to LGBT people.
The Houston ordinance was backed by outgoing Mayor Annise Parker, the first openly lesbian person to be elected as mayor of a major U.S. city. It was also supported by businesses in the city while prominent Republicans and Christian pastors rallied against the proposal.
Some socially conservative Christians saw it as an attack on their religious liberties. Supporters of equal rights said it reflected the values of a modern and multicultural city and was needed to stamp out bigotry.
Many opponents focused on a small part of the ordinance that they said concerned the use of public bathrooms by transgender men and women. They also raised concerns about sexual predators in public restrooms.
(Additional reporting by Jon Herskovitz; editing by Grant McCool)