Berkman Gets National Blowback for Anti-HERO Ad

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Since former Astro Slugger Lance Berkman stepped up as celebrity spokesman against the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance he's been shelled with a barrage of trans-continental criticism.

"Intolerant" charges a Yahoo sportswriter, "Vile" insists NBC sports, "Bigoted and Stupid" charges Keith Olbermann.

But the retired world champion says his public stand is about safety, not discrimination. 

 "Is there a guy in there who could potentially be a child predator? I don't want to have to worry about that," said Berkman.

Richard Carlbom heads the pro-HERO Houston Unites campaign and says Berkman's ad amounts to fear mongering and deserves condemnation here and across the country.

"I think what was fair is to question the truthfulness, and what was said was untrue. The other side is using very heated rhetoric and frankly false accusations that are unfounded," said Carlbom.

Opponents of the HERO ordinance vigorously disagree.

"Show me where this particular ordinance prevents a biological male from going into a female restroom. They can't do it. I believe Lance Berkman has shown leadership, he's shown courage, he's shown principle which will inspire other celebrities like himself to stand up for what is right," said Gerad Woodfill, spokesman for Campaign For Houston.

HERO backers say this fight shouldn't be about bathrooms, but rather the larger responsibility of doing right by all.

"It is the golden rule, treat others the way you would want to be treated. That is what our campaign is based on," said Carlborn.

University of Houston Political Scientist Brandon Rottinghaus believes Berkman's backing gives the anti-HERO forces a substantial boost that the opposition needs to somehow match.

"He's known, he's local and he has a good story to tell about his family and that's a really good sell for them," said Rottinghaus.