San Antonio councilwoman says anti-gay comments were ‘personal opinions’

Posted on 20 Aug 2013 at 10:52am
Chan.Elisa

San Antonio Councilwoman Elisa Chan

A San Antonio city councilwoman was unapologetic this week in her explanation of recorded homophobic comments she made that were released by a staff member last week.

In response, GetEQUAL TX has issued a travel advisory for the city.

According to KENS 5, Elisa Chan made this statement about her recorded comments that gays were disgusting and that same-sex couples should be banned from adopting children:

“The comments from the staff meeting on May 21st were and are my personal opinions and thoughts as guaranteed to me by the 1st amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It is unfortunate that a former member of my D9 Council team betrayed the trust of my staff members and me. I will fight, I will always fight for our freedom of speech, especially in a private setting.”

Her remarks were condemned by Mayor Julian Castro.

“Very discouraging words to hear,”  Castro said. “Councilwoman Chan’s remarks obviously were hurtful and they are ignorant.”

In reaction to the delay in voting on a nondiscrimination ordinance, GetEQUAL TX issued a travel advisory for the city that expires on Sept. 6, the day after the scheduled vote.

“This alert has been issued based on the fact that San Antonio — the 7th largest city in the country — refuses to pass a non-discrimination ordinance that would protect LGBT travelers from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity,” the organization wrote in a press release.

Chan is mentioned in the release.

“Those who support discrimination against LGBT people — such as City Councilwoman Elisa Chan — have been very vocal in their opposition,” GetEQUAL wrote.

“Having been raised in San Antonio, I’ve experienced discrimination repeatedly within the borders of the city,” said Jay Morris, co-lead organizer for GetEQUAL TX. “Despite calling the San Antonio Police Department after being the victim of a violent hate crime, I was removed from the building and my attackers walked free. No police report was filed and I had no mechanism after the attack to report the incident or to help prevent such an event from happening in the future. If the City Council refuses to pass this non-discrimination ordinance, I worry for the safety of other LGBT residents of and travelers to the city.”

GetEQUAL’s  travel advisory is below.

TRAVEL ADVISORY

GetEQUAL TX alerts those traveling to San Antonio, Texas of a continued risk of discrimination based upon sexual orientation and/or gender identity. The City of San Antonio does not currently protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender people from being legally ejected from their hotel rooms or other places of public accommodation. Although city officials are attempting to correct the issue for LGBT travelers, hundreds have appeared on the streets in front of council demanding that such discrimination discontinue.

Additionally, those supporting discrimination have been seen screaming obscenities and derogatory slurs in the faces of LGBT people on the streets of San Antonio. These opponents of equality have targeted LGBT people at and near City Hall, and within various city parks.

Those who are required to travel to San Antonio are encouraged to take the following precautions:

Avoid traveling alone in the city.

• Only book travel at hotels which have policies prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
• Visit only known LGBT-friendly establishments, including restaurants, bars and other venues.
• Be aware of your surroundings and adopt other appropriate safety measures to protect yourself while traveling.

If you experience discrimination while visiting San Antonio, please report it to GetEQUAL TX’s discrimination hotline at 707-992-LGBT (5428).

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