Beyonce urged to support LGBT people in hometown
Houston LGBT residents are looking for a different kind of 'HERO', as they use social media to ask Beyonce to throw her support against a discriminatory change to state legislation. Passed by its City Council last year, the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance - aka HERO - was designed to protect the LGBT community from discrimination across areas of everyday life including housing and employment. But after a tumultuous 15 months of debate, it was decided yesterday in the Texas Supreme Court that residents will decide the future of the legislation by a referendum ballot vote scheduled for November. Khou 11 News reports the ballot language is already confusing voters, given the referendum itself decides not whether the ordinance will be adopted, but whether it will be repealed. Supporters of HERO will be asked to check the box “for” keeping it on the books, while opponents should vote “against” its repeal. And this is where Beyonce, a Houston native, enters the picture. LGBT Program Director of Media Matters Carlos Maza has asked the Grammy award-winning songbird via The Huffington Post to leverage her 42.2 million Instagram followers in support of keeping the HERO legislation. “Beyoncé could change the debate over Houston's Equal Rights Ordinance and mobilise support for protecting LGBT Houstonians from discrimination,” he wrote. “Beyoncé is no stranger to wading into political battles. In April, she used her Instagram to draw attention to the death Freddie Gray and urged followers to donate to the NAACP's effort to help "those affected by the unrest in Baltimore" - posts that racked up hundreds of thousands of likes.” Maza added that despite Houston being the fourth biggest state in the country it suffers from low voter turnout, especially during non-presidential cycles, and Beyonce could help change that. “A few thousand votes will likely decide whether HERO lives or dies,” he said. “Given the amount of attention that Beyoncé's support for the LGBT community has gotten in the past, it's not hard to imagine the kind of positive impact her support for HERO might have on a local election.” Since publishing the letter, local activist Ismael Melendez has coined the call to action hashtag #BeyBeAHERO, which has since gone viral across Twitter. Words by TROY NANKERVIS.