Julian Castro

Mayor Julian Castro

Evangelical protesters and LGBT equality advocates clashed at San Antonio City Hall this week, and a proposal to add sexual orientation, gender identity and veteran status to the city’s nondiscrimination policy was delayed in committee.

According to a Human Rights Campaign field organizer who has been in the city since January working on the ordinance, the protesters thought the city was debating same-sex marriage.

Mayor Julian Castro said San Antonio is lagging behind Dallas, Fort Worth and Austin, which already have LGBT protections.

“I believe that we cannot have second-class citizens in this city,” Castro said. “If you are for this ordinance you are against discrimination. If you are against this ordinance you are for discrimination.”

“The question is, do we believe that people should reserve the legal right to discriminate against them for being who they are?” Councilmember Diego Bernal said. “And I think for the most part, we all agree that the answer is no.”

The committee voted unanimously to have the city attorney draft the changes to the city ordinance and send the proposal to the full council for discussion, QSanAntonio reported. The changes would cover public accommodations, fair housing, city employment, city contracts and appointments to city boards and commissions.

Councilman Dan Medina, who is an evangelical Christian and has voted against LGBT proposals in the past, wanted the proposal to remain in committee another month. He is in a runoff with a candidate who supports the proposal.