Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Equal rights voted for SA


Courtesy Photo

On the afternoon of Sept. 7, City Council voted to approve the Nondiscrimination Ordinance, effective immediately. The Nondiscrimination Ordinance (NDO) prevents employees in city-funded jobs from being fired based on their sexual orientation or veteran status. The ordinance will serve as an extension of equal opportunity employment laws, which already extend rights to minority racial groups.

City Council began listening to citizen testimonies in early August. Since then, over 1,500 San Antonio constituents had spoken in favor or opposition of the ordinance. The night of Sept. 6, before the ordinance was put up for a vote, over 300 people were in line at City Hall to state their opinion on the ordinance. Despite being given only a minute each to speak, testimonies lasted well into the early morning hours.

The NDO was authored by Councilman Diego Bernal from District 1 who, at the beginning of the meeting, shared his own personal journey from homophobia to acceptance of members of the GLBTQ community. Bernal, a human rights lawyer, stated, “I was raised to represent the majority and the minority, especially the vulnerable…. My responsibility as an elected person is to reduce discrimination.”

The members of City Council voted separately when considering whether to extend equal employment protections to veterans and to citizens who identify as GLBTQ. Councilman Ray Lopez from District 6 stated to the San Antonio Express-News that the vote was split after City Council was accused of using veteran status to leverage a vote to further GLBTQ rights.

Councilwoman Elisa Chan from District 9 motioned to table voting on the ordinance in its entirety, which was voted down by the other members of the council.

The first ordinance, considering veteran protections, passed with an 8-2 vote, with Council members Elisa Chan and Ivy Taylor voting in dissent.

The second vote, to consider extending protections to members of the GLBTQ community, passed with an 8-3 vote, with Council members Chan, Taylor and Carlton Soules voting against the ordinance.

Chan, who was accused of homophobia after a former staff member recorded comments in which she condemned the lifestyle of GLBTQ citizens earlier in the month, publicly expressed dissatisfaction after the bills passage.

“I have not heard a single person who said he or she agrees to any form for discrimination,” stated Chan. “Over the course of this debate, tolerance has separated itself from understanding and has become a dictate to agree.”

Mayor Julian Castro, however, supported the ordinance as a standard for equality in San Antonio saying to the City Council chamber, “San Antonio belongs to you; it belongs to everyone. There are no second-class citizens in San Antonio.”

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