Texans owner rescinds donation against gay rights law, says campaign misused his words
Houston Texans owner Bob McNair on Friday rescinded a $10,000 donation to conservatives hoping to repeal nondiscrimination protections for gay and transgendered residents in the city, saying the campaign made "unauthorized statements" about his beliefs.
McNair, a major Republican political donor, didn’t specify what comments made by the Campaign for Houston caused him "great dismay." Nor did his statement, released through the Texans, denounce the aims of the group that has sought to rally voters with a "No Men in Women’s Bathrooms" slogan.
The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, known as HERO, makes no reference to public bathrooms and supporters say the claim is designed to mislead voters ahead of the Nov. 3 referendum.
"Campaign for Houston made numerous unauthorized statements about my opposition to HERO in print, broadcast and social media – including attributing certain statements of belief to me," McNair said. "Their actions and statements were never discussed with nor approved by me."
Jared Woodfill, a spokesman for the campaign, said he did not know what the NFL owner was referencing but said the money would be returned.
"We’ve never spoken for him. We don’t speak for him. We are just thankful for the support he gave us," Woodfill said.
Former Houston Astros star Lance Berkman also opposes the ordinance and has filmed an ad for the campaign.
The ordinance, passed last year by the Houston City Council, bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the nation’s fourth-largest city. It aims to protect gay and transgender people against discrimination in employment and public places.
Conservative activists said voters, not councilmembers, should decide whether Houston has such an ordinance and succeeded in a petition drive to put the question on a ballot. Mayor Annise Parker and other defenders of the law say a repeal would damage the reputation of the city, which hosts the 2017 Super Bowl.
McNair said he doesn’t tolerate discrimination of any kind and believes the city could rewrite a stronger ordinance that would give protections for "all Houstonians."
McNair’s initial donation sparked local controversy in recent days, with former NFL punter Chris Kluwe publishing a heated, personal letter online calling out the Texans owner.
Houston hosts the 2017 Super Bowl.