The Hateful, Cynical Campaign Against San Antonio's Nondiscrimination Ordinance

by Dan Quinn

This past week it became clear just how hateful and cynical the campaign to defeat a proposed San Antonio nondiscrimination ordinance has become. The ordinance would add LGBT people and veterans to existing city nondiscrimination protections in employment, housing and public accommodations. The City Council is planning to vote on the proposed nondiscrimination ordinance on September 5.

How extreme has the opposition to that common sense ordinance become?

Consider the protesters who this past week booed a gay Marine who lost his leg fighting in Iraq. The Marine, Eric Alva, was simply testifying at a public hearing in favor of the ordinance. That’s right: protesters booed a man who had put his life on the line and lost a leg fighting for them overseas. And they did so because he dared ask his hometown not to tolerate bigotry and discrimination.

Consider also the words of San Antonio City Council member Elisa Chan and her staff members as they discussed how to defeat the proposed ordinance. San Antonio Express-News columnist Brian Chasnoff obtained a recording of that stunning discussion.

As Chasnoff reports, Chan and her staffers discussed how they could build opposition to the ordinance while hiding her own views of LGBT people. And what are those views?

“So disgusting,” she says at one point, and that’s not the only time she expresses her revulsion for LGBT people. She also claims that LGBT people don’t face discrimination but declares — in the very same discussion — that they should be banned from adopting children:

“I don’t think homosexual people should do adoption. They should be banned by adoption. You’re going to confuse those kids. They should be banned.”

She also thinks people choose their sexual orientation:

“You know, to be quite honest, I know this is not politically correct. I never bought in that you are born, that you are born gay. I can’t imagine it.”

When a staffer suggests she can’t say that publicly because “the newspaper will get you,” Chan replies:

“That’s why I never would say that outside because they kill me. When I say that it’s … behavioral preference, they say that, ‘No, you’re born with it.’ But I never bought into that.”

Chasnoff has much more about the discussion, including an absurd claim by one Chan staffer that “Americans can, with almost a 90 percent success rate, identify gay people by their face alone.” Another staffer recommends that Chan “become a culture warrior on this one,” arguing that doing so would be politically advantageous. At one point he seems to suggest that supporting policies that protect LGBT people from discrimination are dangerous because of “the road we’re going … incest and being able to marry animals, that’s all going to happen.”

Chan expresses reluctance to be seen as openly opposing the ordinance and attacking LGBT people. So she suggests that they simply try to confuse constituents:

“Maybe what we can do, can we maybe throw some questionable confusions like, OK, this ‘transgender,’ because the definition is so broad… Maybe I say I was not educated on what transgender is about.”

Of course, Chan isn’t the only one trying to confuse San Antonians. An email this week from the viciously anti-gay Texas Values, the lobby arm of the religious-right group Liberty Institute in Plano, describes the proposed ordinance as a “transgender bathroom law” that endangers women and children. The same group has also falsely claimed that the ordinance would ban Christians from serving in city government.

The protesters who booed a gay Marine who lost a leg fighting for them, the cynical City Council member and her staff, extremist anti-gay groups — all have the freedom to say and do such vile things. But we all have the freedom to point out that their hateful words and actions show why the proposed nondiscrimination ordinance in San Antonio is important. No one should lose their jobs or home or be denied services just because of who they are and who they love.

Listen for yourself to the disgraceful discussion among Chan and her staff members:

You can take a stand against extremists who promote hate and bigotry. Contact San Antonio City Council members and ask them to vote for protecting LGBT people and veterans in employment, housing and public accommodations:

Mayor Castro

Diego Bernal

Ivy Taylor

Rebecca Viagran

Rey Saldana

Shirley Gonzales

Ray Lopez

Cris Medina

Ron Nirenberg

Elisa Chan

Carlton Soules