Last week we posted this story from Sam Sanchez at QSanAntonio about how anti-gay forces are fighting San Antonio’s plan to offer domestic partner benefits to municipal workers. On Monday, a group called “Voices for Marriage” held a press conference outside City Hall to oppose the plan. And as you can see above, they broke out their six-year-old signs from the fight over Prop 2, Texas’ marriage amendment. KENS Channel 5 reports:
Extending benefits to city employees in same sex relationships would cost between $300,000 and $400,000 a year — a small fraction of the total $2.2 billion budget which would go into effect October 1.
The move would also put San Antonio in the same category as many other Texas cities and companies, including USAA and Rackspace that currently offer benefits to domestic partners.
However, a local group calling itself “Voices for Marriage” protested the proposed change on Monday outside city hall. The group, citing religious views and current state law, opposes any extension of benefits to domestic partnerships.
Pastor Gerald Ripley issued a “fact sheet” to those in attendance, listing 14 reasons why the group opposes the change. The document said, “We believe marriage is a legally binding relationship between one man and one woman” and “a vote for domestic partner benefits is a vote against upholding the institution of marriage”.
San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, who backs the change, said the city needs to extend benefits to domestic partners in order to stay competitive with other cities and companies across the country that already offer similar benefits. The mayor dismissed oncerns by many protestors over the cost of benefits as “a smokescreen for their dislike of gays and lesbians.”
Watch video from the press conference below.
According to the San Antonio Express-News, a religious group has also formed to support the DP benefits proposal, which will be voted on by the City Council next month. The two sides are expected to square off during a public hearing this Wednesday. The Express-News also reports on a confrontation that occurred during Monday’s press conference:
As he was taking questions from the media, Michele Nicole Simpson, who identifying herself as a lesbian, broke in.
“You don’t want me to have rights?” Simpson said. “Do you have an answer to that?”
Pastor Charles Flowers, who was standing next to Ripley, responded.
“Your question is very easy to answer,” he said. “You are loved and respected by God as anybody else is. And your desire for your lifestyle to be accepted — because you’re an American — you are free to pursue that.”
“It’s not a lifestyle,” Simpson said. “It’s who I am.”
“Of course,” Flowers said, “that’s open for debate.”