October 29, 2015 at 4:01 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Clinton, White House express support for Houston ordinance

Hillary Clinton, gay news, Human Rights Campaign, HRC, Washington Blade

Hillary Clinton supports the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance. (Washington Blade photo by Damien Salas)

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration have come out in favor of a Houston measure aimed at prohibiting anti-LGBT discrimination in the city.

The candidate announced she supports the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, which will come before Houston voters as Proposition 1, via a message on Twitter, saying “no one should face discrimination for who they are or who they love.”

Xochitl Hinojosa, a Clinton spokesperson, confirmed the message should be considered an endorsement by the candidate of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance.

Following the announcement from Clinton, the White House indicated President Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden also support the measure in response to an inquiry from the Washington Blade.

Jeff Tiller, a White House spokesperson, said the Obama administration normally doesn’t weigh in local and state ordinances, but Obama and Biden believe Houston voters will act to prohibit anti-discrimination.

“While the administration generally does not take a formal position on specific proposals or initiatives, the president and vice president have been strong supporters of state and local efforts to protect Americans from being discriminated against based on who they are and who they love,” Tiller said. “We’re confident that the citizens of Houston will vote in favor of fairness and equality.”

Arguably, the response from the White House doesn’t go as far as Clinton in endorsing the ordinance, although the response indicates support for the measure. It would be unusual for the administration to endorse a local measure.

The White House didn’t respond to a follow-up email on whether its position on the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance is an endorsement.

It should be noted the White House has also yet to endorse the Equality Act, which is federal legislation against anti-LGBT discrimination much like the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance.

Meanwhile, LGBT advocates praised Clinton for tweeting out support of the measure, saying her words will help efforts to ensure Houston residents are protected from discrimination.

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, was among those commending Clinton for lending her support for the ordinance.

Matt McTighe, executive director of Freedom for All Americans, said the endorsement from Clinton builds momentum in the remaining time before Houston residents head to the polls on the ordinance.

“Today’s announcement from presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton in support of Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance shows tremendous momentum in the final days of our campaign to ensure that no one faces discrimination for who they are,” McTighe said. “The country’s eyes are on Houston as one of the largest, most culturally diverse cities in America. It’s urgent that Houstonians show up to the polls, do the right thing, and vote yes on Proposition 1.”

Other candidates competing against Clinton for the Democratic nomination also indicated support for the Houston measure.

U.S. Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.) sent out a tweet against discrimination more than 90 minutes before Clinton, although it’s unclear whether the message is a reference to Houston. Michael Briggs, a Sanders spokesperson, clarified the candidate supports the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance.

Spokespersons for the campaigns of Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig said the candidates support the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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