A former Houston Astros player has expressed his support for a referendum meant to overturn a controversial civil rights ordinance that critics say would let men use women's restrooms.
Lance Berkman, one of the Astros' all-time greatest players, spoke on behalf of the effort to defeat the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance next month via referendum.
"My wife and I have four daughters, [the ordinance] would allow troubled men who claim to be women to enter women's bathrooms, showers, and locker rooms," said Berkman.
"It's better to prevent this danger by closing women's restrooms to men, rather than waiting for a crime to happen. Join me to stop the violation of privacy and discrimination against women."
In November, Houstonians will vote on whether to keep a controversial ordinance passed by city leadership last year.
Known as the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, or HERO, the measure expands civil rights protections in the city to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
Opponents of the measure claim that the ordinance if enacted would force businesses to allow men, including convicted sex offenders, to use women's restrooms and locker rooms.
Supporters, including the city openly gay Mayor Annise Parker, have argued that the measure protects sexual minorities who do not feel comfortable using the bathroom of their birth gender.
Opponents of the ordinance launched a petition that got more than 50,000 signatures; well above the 17,269 signatures needed to put the ordinance on the ballot.
Although city officials attempted to throw out the petition, in July the Texas Supreme Court ruled that the ordinance must be put on the upcoming ballot.
"The City Council is directed to comply with its duties, as specified in the City Charter, that arise when the City Secretary certifies that a referendum petition has a sufficient number of valid signatures. Any enforcement of the [Equal Rights] ordinance will be suspended," ruled the high court.
"If the City Council does not repeal the ordinance by August 24, 2015, then by that date the City Council must order that the ordinance be put to popular vote during the November 2015 election."
The Berkman ad was released by Campaign for Houston, an anti-ordinance group that seeks to have voters cast a ballot against Proposition 1.
"Campaign for Houston is made up of parents and family members who do not want their daughters, sisters or mothers forced to share restrooms in public facilities with gender-confused men, who – under this ordinance – can call themselves 'women' on a whim and use women's restrooms whenever they wish," reads their website.
"The ordinance also limits free speech and religious expression in unprecedented ways so as to not 'offend' these two new 'protected' groups, both of which are defined by their behaviors - not by characteristics given to them at birth."
For her part, Mayor Parker has denounced the Berkman ad, questioning the moral consistency of the former professional baseball player on Twitter.
"When Lance Berkman went from NYC to STL to play ball did he do it to escape NYCs scary nondiscrimination law?" tweeted Parker.
The Christian Post queried the City of Houston, which directed CP to a spokesperson who could not return comment by press time due to a demanding traveling schedule.