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Bernal Gets Support, Backlash On Anti-Discrimination Expansion Proposal

Gonzalo Rodriguez

The San Antonio City Council could soon take up an anti-discrimination ordinance to include additional groups.

District 1 Councilman Diego Bernal proposed a policy that would also be consolidated with other anti-discrimination regulations that he said are scattered about in a constellation of codes and ordinances.

City staffers are researching how to go about consolidating the policies. The council’s governance committee will meet Tuesday and decide whether to advance the issue to the full city council.

Among the groups he wants to include in an expanded policy are veterans, military members, and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) communities.

"We already operate under an anti-discrimination regime," Bernal said. "We already have a system where within the city, if you're doing business with the city - so if you're a contractor or subcontractor - you already are prohibited from discriminating against protected classes: race, gender, religion and so forth. And so all I'm doing is saying add these groups to that list."

Bernal said religious organizations have spoken against his proposition, but his response to them has been that of equal rights.

On his Facebook page, Bernal said he’s not trying to make San Antonio a more progressive city. "I am trying to align it with basic tenants of human decency," he said in a reply to comments made.

Staffers will also need to figure out how it would be enforced.

Bernal himself said he wasn’t sure the scope of the city’s enforcement mechanism on his proposed upgraded policy, but he said the city does have authority over areas like housing and transportation policies.

Bernal said many other cities have taken a stance on including groups like the LGBTQ community.

"We're way behind," he said. "The list is long, but we are not the engine on this thing. We are the caboose."

Ryan Loyd was Texas Public Radio's city beat and political reporter. He left the organization in December, 2014.