San Antonio lawmakers approved a non-discrimination ordinance with an 8 to 3 vote on September 5, thus protecting LGBT residents. As San Antonio joins almost 180 other American cities with LGBT protections, mayor Julian Castro considers it an “overdue victory” for the seventh-largest city in the US.
“It’s a common-sense ordinance that’s going to treat everyone equally. Nobody will be a second-class citizen in San Antonio. Here, there will be basic fairness and common decency for everybody,” Castro said. “We’re not breaking any new ground, you know. Austin, Houston, Dallas, El Paso. Most Fortune 500 companies already have this kind of provision. That’s a bit surprising that San Antonio didn’t have it in place.”
While a major victory for LGBT supporters, several church leaders protested against the council members and threatened with a petition and shouts.
“From the faith community, it has all sorts of legal and drafting and constitutional problems,” Texas Values president Jonathan Saenz told News Fix. “So the question now is, when will the first legal challenge begin, and how much is it going to cost taxpayers when those cases finally end.”
Other religious critics said the new ordinance said that “people of faith” would not be able to practice their bigotry in solitude and clarified it was against the “Holy Bible and the US Constitution.”
Other opponents aren’t happy with the depictions of using religion as an excuse.
“[Proponents would] paint anyone with religious objections as bigots hiding behind religion,” Councilwoman Ivy Taylor said after the law passed. “I really wanted to be able to vote yes on this ordinance because I wanted to be able to affirm that all citizens deserve protection under the law, which I do believe. I know that people will say that I’m an ignorant bigot, or that I gave in to fear and prejudice, but I know my heart. I am not a coward. I am not a bigot. And I am not ignorant.”
With the new ordinance, public officers are barred from discriminating in their official duties and inhibit discrimination in obtaining city contracts.
“When I say the pledge of allegiance, I say ‘justice for some’ because there’s an asterisk that means not me,” said 67-year-old Air Force officer Dee Villarubia, who was evicted from her apartment because of her orientation. “Today, I would take that asterisk away and finally say ‘justice for all.’”
San Antonio has gained much press in the last few months for its anti-gay reputation. Get Equal Texas released a travel alert for LGBT travelers, much to the mayor’s chagrin. San Antonio councilwoman Elisa Chan stirred controversy with her alleged inflammatory remarks at a hearing calling gay people “so disgusting.” WNBA Sophia Young also participated in a prayer sit-in against marriage equality and the LGBT protection ordinance.
“This city is important and it’s special because of its diversity, its diversity of opinions, diversity of people, and its richness and its love for every San Antonian, and that love is not exclusive—it is inclusive,” said Councilman Rey Saldaña.