Group aims to recall San Antonio councilman who sponsored city’s nondiscrimination ordinance

Councilman Diego Bernal

Councilman Diego Bernal

A group opposed to San Antonio’s new nondiscrimination ordinance are circulating a petition to recall Councilman Diego Bernal, the measure’s chief sponsor.

They claim because of the new ordinance, men are using women’s bathrooms and sexually assaulting little girls. Police have no complaints of men in women’s bathrooms and no reports of sexual assaults of little girls.

But why should facts stand in their way?

Opponents of the ordinance argued before passage that it would infringe on their religious freedom. Attorney General Greg Abbott threatened to file a lawsuit against the ordinance based on wording that was debated and removed before it passed.

San Antonio’s city’s charter allows a recall of city officials if signatures of 10 percent of registered voters in the district is collected. The group said it should have those signatures within a few weeks.

They are also threatening to begin a recall of Mayor Julian Castro. That would take 10 percent of the city’s voters.

—  David Taffet

Davis endorses SA nondiscrimination ordinance, gets Castro’s support

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Sen. Wendy Davis announcing her bid for governor

State. Sen. Wendy Davis appeared in San Antonio on Monday for a campaign stop, during which she endorsed the city’s new nondiscrimination ordinance and was endorsed by Mayor Julian Castro.

Davis said she hoped the new ordinance in San Antonio would become commonplace throughout Texas. Fort Worth has a similar ordinance, which Davis voted for when she sat on the City Council.

“I hope that it becomes something that is commonplace,” Davis said. “I look forward to a Texas where we see that in every city in the state.”

Davis later told reporters that it’s “important that people be treated equally in the workplace, plain and simple.”

Her position is the opposite of Attorney General Greg Abbott, the frontrunner for the Republican nomination. He threatened to file suit against the ordinance, claiming it violated freedom of religion. He dropped the suit when he couldn’t find any way discriminating against people was a religious right.

An Abbott spokesman reiterated his opposition to the nondiscrimination ordinance but also indicated opposition to some private companies adopting those policies.

“Both the U.S. and Texas Constitutions protect faith-based organizations from being coerced into employing persons in a way that would require them to violate their faith,” the spokesman told Texas Tribune.

Davis announced she was running for governor last week at a rally in Haltom City.

Filing for the primaries begins Nov. 9. The primary will be held in March.

—  David Taffet

Anti-gay San Antonio councilwoman resigns to run for state Senate

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San Antonio Councilwoman Elisa Chan

San Antonio Councilwoman Elisa Chan resigned Monday in order to run for higher office.

Chan made national headlines over the summer when a recording of a staff meeting was leaked ad she was heard calling gays “disgusting” when discussing the city’s proposed nondiscrimination ordinance. The ordinance later passed without her support.

In her resignation letter, Chan said she was proud of her work on the council.

“I have done my best to represent the conservative values of these fine people,” she wrote. “The people of this district take an active role in deciding policy, giving their input, volunteering their time and listening to the views of their neighbors.”

Chan said last month she plans to challenge Republican incumbent Donna Campbell to represent Senate District 25.

Campbell authored a bill earlier this year to prevent transgender people from using an affidavit of a sex change to obtain a marriage license.

Chan’s last day in office is Oct. 18.

—  Dallasvoice

AG Greg Abbott to challenge San Antonio nondiscrimination ordinance

Attorney General Greg Abbott

Attorney General Greg Abbott

Attorney General Greg Abbott told a San Antonio radio station he plans to file a federal lawsuit against the newly passed San Antonio nondiscrimination ordinance. Abbott announced last month he is running for governor.

The ordinance adding veteran’s status, sexual orientation and gender identity to other protected categories passed Thursday.

It’s not clear how a lawsuit against the San Antonio ordinance will affect Dallas and Fort Worth. Both have ordinances banning discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

Abbott claims Texas has a Supremacy Law that says cities can’t override the state.

The federal government also has a Supremacy Law that the state can’t override the federal government. But that doesn’t seem to phase the Texas National Guard, which is refusing to process applications for married same-sex members of the Guard.

And the commander of the National Guard has asked Abbott for a legal opinion: Is Texas Military Forces, which is over the guard, a state agency bound by state law or does the order from the military to recognize same-sex marriages apply to Texas?

Texas is the only state to completely defy the order. Mississippi is not taking applications at state offices but is taking them on National Guard bases. Louisiana followed Mississippi late last week.

The National Guard reports to both the governor and the president and receives money for training and maintaining its forces as well as equipment from the federal government.

—  David Taffet

VICTORY: San Antonio council passes LGBT protections

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(Alanna Truitt/QSanAntonio)

Despite loud and vocal opposition from Christian extremists, the San Antonio City Council on Sept. 5 passed a nondiscrimination ordinance that includes protections for LGBT citizens and veterans. The vote was eight in favor and three against.

The newly passed ordinance amends sections of the city code that cover public accommodations, fair housing, city employment, city contracts and appointments to city boards and commissions. The language in the code now includes sexual orientation and gender identity, and veteran status as protected classes. The changes will take effect immediately.

“It has been a long, hard struggle, but we are happy that truth, justice, fairness and equality have prevailed and that San Antonio has joined the 180 other cities across the country who treat their LGBT residents with dignity and respect. Now the time for healing has begun and we invite those who opposed this ordinance to meet with us in the spirit of forgiveness, reconciliation and mutual education,” said Dan Graney, co-chair of CAUSA, the coalition of LGBT groups and allies that was promoting the nondiscrimination ordinance.

—  Sam Sanchez

WATCH LIVE: San Antonio council votes on nondiscrimination ordinance

 

 

 

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UPDATE: The council recessed shortly before noon for lunch. Members will return at 1 p.m. to discuss and vote on the ordinance.

ORIGINAL POST: The debate over a proposed citywide ordinance to protect LGBT citizens in San Antonio will come to an end today when the council votes.

But until the vote around noon, the council is hearing from a divided community about the ordinance. Supporters in red are speaking out in favor of the measure, while opponents dressed in blue are discussing their religious objections.

Watch the speaker address the council here or here.

More to come …

—  Dallasvoice

SLAM DUNK: Spurs back citywide LGBT protections in San Antonio

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San Antonio clergy gather at City Hall Tuesday to voice support for the city’s proposed nondiscrimination ordinance. (San Antonio Express-News)

The San Antonio Spurs have come out in support of the city’s proposed nondiscrimination ordinance.

Mayor Julian Castro released the letter to the Express-News on Tuesday, in which the team cites its own and the National Basketball Association’s nondiscrimination policies. The NBA added sexual orientation to its policy in 2011.

Rick Pych, president of business operations for Spurs Sports & Entertainment, wrote in the letter that the team and NBA support inclusion of everyone with discrimination.

“SS&E and the NBA have historically been leaders in diversity and nondiscrimination,” Pych wrote. “SS&E has demonstrated a commitment to fair employment practices, which has resulted in a diverse workforce in our multicultural community.”

Castro said he’s pleased with the support from the business community, which includes the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce and the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

“Successful companies clearly get that nondiscrimination provisions that apply to the LGBT community make good business sense and are the right thing to do,” he said.

Clergy members gathered Tuesday at City Hall to show support for the ordinance, which the council will vote on Thursday. The measure would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and veteran status in employment, housing and public accommodations.

Equality Texas is urging LGBT supporters to voice their support and show up at the council meeting Wednesday and to the vote on Thursday. The Express-News came in support of the ordinance this morning in an editorial.

—  Dallasvoice

ACTION ALERT: San Antonio to vote on nondiscrimination ordinance this week

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Equality Texas is calling on LGBT advocates to help encourage the San Antonio City Council to pass a proposed nondiscrimination ordinance this week.

The ordinance would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and veteran status in employment, housing and public accommodations. After delaying a vote in June, the council will vote on Thursday.

Opponents of the ordinance have been vocal, with more people opposing the measure than supporting it speaking last week at a meeting.

People can email council members here. Equality Texas is continuing to urge local supporters and those from other cities to come and voice their support at several events this week while wearing red.

Those events are:

Faith Leaders Rally for Equality, Justice & Healing. Tuesday at 2 p.m. at San Antonio City Hall, 100 Militiary Plaza.

“Citizens to be Heard.” Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Municipal Plaza Building, 114 West Commerce.

• City Council Votes on the NDO. Thursday at 9 a.m. at Municipal Plaza Building, 114 West Commerce.

—  Dallasvoice

Vandals scrawl ‘fag’ on lesbian couple’s apartment door in South Texas

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Alysa Evans woke up Monday morning to find “FAG” written on her apartment wall in Poteet, a small town about 30 miles south of San Antonio.

Evans told KENS 5 that her fiancée was just getting off her first shift and she went outside to smoke a cigarette when she and her 2-year-old son saw the anti-gay slur.

She called police to report it, but they are not investigating it as a hate crime because it was written in chalk and didn’t cause any damage. Instead they are investigating it as vandalism.

“Police came out and they said if I can find something more original or catch it in the process, then they can do something about it,” Evans said.

The apartment complex’s maintenance workers later washed off the slur.

“Great job on your artwork,” Evans said. “Could have been a little more creative. Because I know I’m a fag. But great job. My 2-year-old applauded you.”

Evans said that while some people are targeting her family out of hate, she and her fiancée will always teach their son to love.

“We’re raising him in a home that loves no matter what,” she said.

Watch KENS 5’s report below.

—  Dallasvoice

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott endorses anti-LGBT discrimination

Texas AG Greg Abbott

Greg Abbott

Greg Abbott is at least 13 years behind Wendy Davis on gay rights.

In a move that highlights his differences on LGBT issues with his potential Democratic opponent in the 2014 Texas governor’s race, Abbott on Monday came out against a proposed ordinance that would ban anti-LGBT discrimination in San Antonio.

Thirteen years ago next month, state Sen. Davis, who was then a member of the Fort Worth City Council, voted in favor of an ordinance banning discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing and public accommodations. (The Fort Worth ordinance was amended to include transgender protections in 2009, following the Rainbow Lounge raid.)

Austin and Dallas have also had similar ordinances for years, but a proposal to be voted on next month in San Antonio has generated plenty of controversy. According to The Dallas Morning News, Abbott believes the San Antonio ordinance “would run afoul of the Texas Constitution, which was amended in 2005 to define marriage as between a man and a woman.”

“Religious expression is guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and this ordinance is also contrary to the clearly expressed will of the Texas Legislature,” Abbott said. “Although the proposal has been couched in terms of liberty and equality, it would have the effect of inhibiting the liberty of expression and equality of opportunity for San Antonians.”

Abbott joins three Republicans who are vying to replace him as attorney general in coming out against the ordinance, and his position is hardly surprising. As AG he’s intervened in court to block gay couples from divorcing in Texas, and earlier this year he issued an advisory opinion saying he believes domestic partner benefits offered by local government entities are illegal.

Davis has said she’ll decide whether to run for governor in 2014 or seek re-election to her Senate seat sometime after Labor Day.

—  John Wright