NFL team owner Bob McNair took back a $10,000 donation last week from a campaign to repeal Houston's nondiscrimination law after the group attributed statements to him that he doesn’t believe in.
“To my great dismay, 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,” the Houston Texans owner said in a statement Friday after he suffered a week of scorching criticism over the gift.
“Their actions and statements were never discussed with nor approved by me,” he continued. “Therefore I instructed the campaign to return my contribution."
A source familiar with the situation told BuzzFeed News that McNair canceled the check last week before it was deposited.
Campaign for Houston and its spokesman, Jared Woodfill, have focused their talking points, mailers, and commercials predominately on stoking fear that transgender sex predators will use the law to prowl women’s restrooms and attack young girls. Facebook posts and other statements have said that was McNair’s motivation for contributing:
The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, which goes before voters in a ballot referendum on Nov. 3, makes it illegal to discriminate against a wide array of people in places of housing, employment, and public accommodations. Houston officials have said the law would not change the laws against predatory behavior in bathrooms.
Neither Campaign for Houston nor Woodfill replied to requests for comment from BuzzFeed News.
McNair's statement said that while he believes a "thoughtful rewrite would provide a better ordinance," he ultimately supports “strong non-discrimination protections for all Houstonians.” But Campaign for Houston, which is trying to repeal the law, broadcast that donation as of blessing of the campaign’s messages.
Criticism was harsh over McNair's contribution. A Forbes article was titled, “Bob McNair Should Face Repercussions for Shameful Donation To Anti-Gay Group.” And Chris Kluwe, a former player for the Vikings, said in an open letter that McNair's donation funded “a cause whose sole purpose is to denigrate a specific group of American citizens.”
Kluwe asked McNair: “Why does the idea of LBGT individuals enjoying the same rights and protections as everyone else fill you with such hatred, such loathing, that you would voluntarily choose to make their lives even more difficult than the prejudice they’ve faced for decades?”
Advocates for the nondiscrimination law have also warned repealing the ordinance could risk the city’s ability to host the Super Bowl. But Woodfill told Fox26 that McNair’s donation was a comment on that issue, saying the contribution “should send a very loud, a very clear message to anyone who would try to scare people based on these bogus Super Bowl-type arguments.”
McNair’s statement ended by trying to quiet some of his critics.
“I do not believe in or tolerate personal or professional discrimination of any kind,” he wrote. “I also believe that we Houstonians should have an ordinance that unites our community and provides a bold statement of non-discrimination. I encourage all Houstonians to vote on November 3.”