Equality Defeats Fear and Hate: San Antonio Passes Nondiscrimination Ordinance

by Dan Quinn

This afternoon a strong majority on the San Antonio City Council voted to add protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons as well as military veterans to the city’s policiesĀ barring discrimination in employment for public workers and city contractors. The policy also provides protections in housing and public accommodations.

The new ordinance expands city policies that already barred discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex age or disability.

Today’s decisive 8-3 vote by the City Council came despite a torrent of mistruths and appeals to fear and bigotry from religious-right organizations, activists and politicians opposed to the new nondiscrimination ordinance.

The Texas Freedom Network was proud to stand with our coalition partners, especially Equality Texas and the Human Rights Campaign, in support of the nondiscrimination ordinance. But make no mistake: Equality Texas and HRC did the heavy lifting in this campaign and deserve congratulations for all their hard work in this important victory for LGBT families.

Even as state politicians continue to pander to religious-right activists by opposing equality for LGBT Texans, San Antonio joins a list of other Texas cities — including Houston, Dallas, Austin, El Paso, and Fort Worth — in barring discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. In addition, 21 states, the District of Columbia and more than 180 cities, counties and towns across the United States have nondiscrimination protections for LGBT persons.

Opponents’ appeals to fear and hate included numerous false, misleading and incendiary claims, including charges that the ordinance was an attack on religious freedom and would put children at risk. One City Council member said she found gay people “disgusting.” Texas State Board of Education member Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio, warned that “child molesters and sexual deviants will love this ordinance.”

But a majority of City Council members joined a large coalition of San Antonio citizens, businesses and advocacy organizations in calling out those lies and standing for fairness and equality in the Alamo City.