Texas Matters is a Monday evening series focusing on Texas political news while sharing information and strategies with the aim of taking back our state.First of all, if you're wondering if you've been sleeping all week and it's actually Thursday, don't worry--it's still Monday. nomandates and I have decided to move Texas Matters to Monday evenings at 8:30 PM EST. We hope you'll be able to join us at our new time slot.
I think it's fitting on this Labor Day to discuss a struggle for basic fairness in the workplace being waged in San Antonio. Of course, we all know that gays and lesbians can't get married in Texas, but on an even more basic level than that, it is also possible to be fired for being LGBT in most of the state. There has not been much coverage on Daily Kos, but the San Antonio City Council has recently been considering a proposed ordinance that would bar discrimination against LGBT people and veterans in employment and public accommodations by amending existing law to include sexual orientation, gender identity, and veteran status.
This is pretty basic stuff, of course. Again, we're talking about workplace and public accommodations non-discrimination. Really basic stuff that wide, wide majorities of Americans (and Texans) support. Stuff that ceased being controversial some time ago. But that hasn't stopped a very vocal minority both in and outside of San Antonio from trying to shoot down this common-sense ordinance. Nor has it stopped the same people from stirring up a heaping helping of hate, bigotry, and vitriol against LGBT San Antonians in the process.
Although Major Julian Castro and other high-profile figures support the ordinance, there are also some high-profile people that we can count in that vocal, bigoted minority. Chief among them is Texas Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott, who touts the usual "religious freedom is under attack" line (which, of course, is more than bogus, but we all know that because we're not idiots).
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. 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.And then, of course, there is San Antonio Council Member Elisa Chan, who made quite the headlines in recent weeks by being caught on tape making extremely homophobic and transphobic remarks behind office doors in opposition to the ordinance. Remarks including:
By the way, this is politically incorrect. I don’t think homosexual people should do adoption. They should be banned by adoption. You’re going to confuse those kids. They should be banned.
If you wanted to choose that lifestyle, we don’t want to discriminate you, but you shouldn’t affect the young people. How terrible. … They’re going to be confused. You see two men go into a bedroom. You see two women kissing. Is that not confusing? It’s confusing.
You know, to be quite honest, I know this is not politically correct. I never bought in that you are born, that you are born gay. I can’t imagine it.You can read all about Chan's asshattery in the diary I wrote on the subject.
Oh, and even more recently, there is Sophia Young, the three-time WNBA all-star, who remains vocally opposed to legalized same-sex marriage in San Antonio. Yeah. Because that's what's going on. Or something. From her Twitter account:
Should San Antonio be a city that allows same-sex marriage?? I vote NO.The controversy that the Religious Right and certain public figures have stirred up led to a very heated confrontation last Wednesday at City Hall, when City Council heard testimony on the proposed ordinance. An estimated 500 people flooded the chambers to speak and to protest. Here's a sample of the testimony that was heard, courtesy of Burnt Orange Report:
I suspect that this is actually a political agenda being shoved upon us by some who want to please the elite in Washington because they'd like to move there someday. We see you. Your agenda is showing.Yeahhhhh...
Meanwhile, the crowd members (who were wearing red in support of the ordinance and blue in opposition) spilled out of City Hall into the streets, where there were reports of intense confrontations. From the San Antonio Express-News:
Groups outside clasped hands and prayed or watched as factions pointed fingers and lobbed threats of eternal damnation.San Antonio has truly become our country's next battleground for LGBT rights. Once you cut through all the hatred and misplaced anger, the question simply comes down to whether or not it should be against the law to fire somebody simply for being LGBT. Polling data shows very wide majorities on the progressive side--and I almost hate to use that word, because the "progressive" side encompasses liberals, many conservatives, and everybody in between. The right side is more than clear on this issue.
“Today as I was walking up (to chambers), I was told again I'm 'going to hell,'” said Anel Flores, who grew up facing down gay slurs. “I am a business owner, a published author, a taxpayer, a consumer, and artist, and I'm a lesbian mother.”
During her turn at the mic, Janice Flowers said that if the ordinance passes, men would flock to San Antonio to parade in the streets. The pastor's wife showed photos of men in gay pride parades she called “X-rated.”
The City Council vote is scheduled to come on Thursday. We will see if San Antonio joins the other states and localities that have come down on the right side of history. In the meantime, if you're in San Antonio, you know what to do until Thursday.
Texas Diary Round-Up (8/27/2013 - 9/2/2013)
Hunter: Anti-vaccine megachurch hit with measles epidemic, now offering free vaccinations (8/26/2013)
poopdogcomedy: TX-Sen: Hoping To Become President In 2016, Ted Cruz (R) Refuses To Endorse John Cornyn (R) (8/27/2013)
Catte Nappe: No feces, no urine...no diary to speak of either (8/27/2013)
BlackSheep1: Fort Hood Shooter Sentenced to Death (8/28/2013)
coquiero: Feminists Flinging Feces: False! (Remember the Texas State Capitol Story?) (8/28/2013)
Kenneth Thomas: Republican "Market-oriented" health reforms won't work, part 2 (8/28/2013)
Laura Clawson: AFL-CIO may target Texas in 2014 elections (8/29/2013)
RH Reality Check: Texas State Troopers Relied on One Anti-Choice Activist for ‘Poopgate’ Intelligence (8/29/2013)
Marcia G Yerman: The Keystone Pipeline Is An Environmental Justice Issue (8/31/2013)
Eric Nelson: Yes Fix the VRA but why gut Section 2 first? (9/1/2013)
jcullen: Stand Up to Bullies (9/1/2013)
Got more Texas news stories or action alerts? Share them in the comments!