A Change.org petition is calling for the NFL to revoke its agreement with Houston to host Super Bowl LI in 2017. The protest is unfolding after Houston residents voted Tuesday to reject the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, an anti-discrimination law designed to protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.
Houston repealed the act, dubbed HERO, by a vote of 61 percent to 39 percent. Opponents alleged the ordinance would infringe upon religious freedom and that allowing transgender individuals to use public bathrooms would enable sexual predators, the Associated Press reported. Originally approved by the Houston City Council in May 2014, HERO would have made it more difficult for local businesses and housing officials to discriminate based on sexual orientation, age or race.
The Change.org petition, which had amassed nearly 2,000 online signatures by Thursday morning, calls on the NFL to “make a profound statement” on equality by moving the Super Bowl out of Houston. “By pulling the game from Houston, the NFL can demonstrate its commitment to equality, freedom and justice in a truly meaningful way,” the Change.org petition said.
— KPRC 2 Houston (@KPRC2) November 4, 2015
Local officials, including Houston Mayor Annise Parker, warned that HERO’s repeal could lead to boycotts and otherwise affect the city’s economy -- a troubling prospect as Houston prepares to host Super Bowl LI. Officials in Glendale, Arizona, the city that hosted Super Bowl XLIX last February, projected an economic windfall of more than $500 million as a direct result of the event. A follow-up study commissioned by the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee estimated the event’s impact on the local economy was greater than $700 million, AZCentral.com reported.
Despite the public outcry, the NFL confirmed Wednesday that HERO’s repeal “will not affect our plans for Super Bowl LI in 2007.”
“We will work closely with 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,” the NFL said in a statement.