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San Antonio Getting Outside Backlash For Anti-Discrimination Ordinance

Ryan Loyd
TPR News

San Antonio city staffers say letters are rolling into city hall by the dozens from people who are angry about the proposed anti-discrimination ordinance.

The ordinance being considered by the San Antonio City Council would prohibit discrimination within the city’s hiring practices and anyone who contracts a job with the city.

Although the ordinance maintains anti-discrimination policies for race, color, religion, age and disability, the proposal would add veteran status, sexual orientation, and gender identity to the list. The latter two are why most people are angered.

In an email, one man who does not live in San Antonio, wrote to Mayor Julián Castro.

“While some of the provisions of the proposal I do agree with (namely: race, color, religion, etc.), the provisions regarding sexual orientation and gender identity are a bit much,” said the writer.

“Basically, what they are saying is Christians need not apply… Why spend my hard earned money in a place where my Christian views are being stepped on?” said the author.

The man said he would be taking a trip to New Orleans and wanted to either follow that visit to either San Antonio or Nashville. He wrote that the proposed ordinance helped make up his mind.

A city employee replied to the writer to say more than 200 cities and towns across the country include sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policies, "including Nashville (2011) and New Orleans (1985)."

Credit Ryan Loyd / TPR
Opponents to a proposed anti-discrimination ordinance believe "special rights" should not be given to certain people, including homosexuals.

Castro maintained his stance to pass the ordinance.

"San Antonio is the last big city to actually enact a non-discrimination ordinance like this," he said. "So I hope folks will actually wait for the final draft of the proposal before they make a judgment on it."

City leaders say people are mostly misinformed about the ordinance. A fact sheet is being passed around to help dispel the bad information. In part, the flier reads:

What the ordinance does not do:

  • Does not add any new employment regulations on businesses operating within the city that do not contract with the City of San Antonio
  • Does not require any business to provide domestic partner benefits to their employees
  • Does not establish a Human Relations Commission or require adding any personnel
  • Has no impact on the City’s budget
  • Does not amend the City’s charter

District 1 Councilman Diego Bernal has also said he wants to separate the vote when the council takes the measure up for final approval. He said it was his intention to have the council vote on the language -- including veterans -- separately from the portion that includes sexual orientation and gender identity.
Bernal said he does not want to put his colleagues in an uncomfortable situation to make them vote for one aspect of the ordinance if they are not comfortable with another.

Several exemptions would allow movement around the ordinance, like allowing religious organizations to show a preference in employment based upon religion. Other examples include: Christian elementary schools and universities, places of worship, and tax-exempt, nonprofit religious organizations associated with a church.

This month city council will discuss the issue further, with the possibility that it would move to a final vote in Sept.

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