Baseball's Lance Berkman comes out against Houston HERO ordinance

by Gregory Tomlin |

(Andrew Richardson/USA TODAY Sports)Former Houston Astro Lance Berkman is honored prior to the game against the Los Angeles Angels at Minute Maid Park on April 5, 2014. Berkman recently retired but is back in the public eye after coming out strong against Houston's proposed HERO ordinance giving transgenders access to whichever bathroom fits their "gender identity."

HOUSTON (Christian Examiner) – Baseball great Lance Berkman is used to taking pitches. Now, he's making one.

Berkman, who hit 366 home runs for the Houston Astros, Texas Rangers, St. Louis Cardinals and New York Yankees in a career spanning 15-years, is advocating the defeat of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), which – if passed – would allow men who "identify" as women to use women's restrooms and vice versa. In particular, the ordinance eases the path to public acceptance for transgenders.

The ordinance was passed by Houston's city council last year, but the Texas Supreme Court later ruled it had to be put to a popular vote for citizens to decide.

Berkman said he was encouraging voters to reject the ordinance because the safety of his four daughters was more important to him than anything else – including baseball.

"My wife and I have four daughters. Proposition 1 would allow troubled men who claim to be women to enter women's bathrooms, showers and locker rooms. It's better to prevent this danger by closing women's restrooms to me, rather than waiting for a crime to happen. Join me to stop the violation of privacy and discrimination against women," Berkman said in a video statement.

Evangelist Franklin Graham issued a statement of support for Berkman on his Facebook page Oct. 14. He said Berkman is "100% right – this is dangerous."

"We need to pray for Lance Berkman and that more people will stand against the onslaught of the gay, lesbian, and transgender agenda in our country," Graham said.

Ed Young Sr., pastor of Houston's Second Baptist Church, also came out against the ordinance in a sermon Sept. 22. He said the passage of the ordinance would open up the city and eventually the entire metropolitan Houston area to "something that is absolutely godless."

"You say I'm being political. Well, no. I speak out on a very serious moral issue," Young told his congregation. "Those of us who believe men should use men's facilities and women should use women's facilities, we will be discriminated against."

When Houston's first openly gay mayor, Annise Parker, pushed the ordinance through the city council last year, several Houston-area pastors spoke out against it. Parker later subpoenaed their sermons and touched off a fight over religious liberty and free speech. The pastors won that fight.

The HERO ordinance goes before voters on Nov. 3.