Texas House Members of Bexar County Join In Support of San Antonio's Non-Discrimination Ordinance

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Texas House Representatives Mike Villarreal, Trey Martinez-Fischer, Ruth Jones McClendon, Justin Rodriguez, Joe Farias, Roland Gutierrez, Phillip Cortez, and Jose Menendez from Bexar County joined to sign a letter supporting San Antonio's Non-Discrimination Ordinance, scheduled for a vote next Thursday, Sept. 5.

“This ordinance provides protections that are not covered by state or federal law. Though members of our delegation have authored legislation to prohibit workplace and housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, the Texas Legislature has not adopted these important provisions,” the eight members wrote.

Not so thrilled about LGBT equality? Republican State Senators Dan Patrick and Dr. Donna Campbell. Campbell, who represents a portion of northern Bexar County, issued her own public letter to San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro.

“I share the sentiments of Attorney General Greg Abbott and others who have spoken out against this ordinance. I believe it violates the Texas Constitution, will harm families and businesses, and has unnecessarily divided our city,” Campbell stated in her letter.

The ordinance gained national attention when District 9 Councilwoman Elisa Chan — who is considering to run against Campbell for Senate District 25 — was caught engaging in very disturbing homophobic and transphobic rhetoric in a secret recording released by a former staff. Chan went on to defend the anti-LGBT statements as free speech.

Read the letters and statements by members of the Texas Legislature after the jump.From Texas House Bexar County delegation:

August 30, 2013

Councilmember Diego Bernal

City of San Antonio

P.O. Box 839966

San!Antonio, TX 78283

Dear Councilmember Diego Bernal,

We, the undersigned members of the Bexar County delegation to the Texas House of Representatives, are writing to express our support for the City of San Antonio's Non-Discrimination Ordinance.

We applaud your leadership in this effort to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and veteran status. We believe that members of our community who work hard and play by the rules should not be fired because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or veteran status and should have equal access to housing and city contracts.

We support the ordinance, which simply adds sexual orientation, gender identity and veteran status to our city's existing nondiscrimination policies. These policies currently protect individuals from discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, gender, and disability. It applies to city employees, city contracts and subcontracts, housing and public accommodations. We understand that the ordinance does not interfere with religious organizations' practice of hiring members of their faith, and does not require businesses or religious organizations to promote messages with which they do not agree.

This ordinance provides protections that are not covered by state or federal law. Though members of our delegation have authored legislation to prohibit workplace and housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, the Texas Legislature has not adopted these important provisions. We pledge our continued support for these efforts to ensure equality at the state level and are proud to have San Antonio join the other major cities in Texas to include these protections in the city code.

Sincerely,

Mike Villarreal

Ruth Jones McClendon

Justin Rodriguez

Joe Farias

Roland Gutierrez

Trey Martinez-Fischer

Phillip Cortez

Jose Menendez

State Senator Donna Campbell:

August 29, 2013

Dear Mayor Castro,

I have watched the debate over San Antonio's so-called nondiscrimination ordinance with great interest hoping that an agreeable solution could be reached. However, with a vote quickly approaching, I feel obligated to add my voice to the number of concerned Texans opposing this measure.

San Antonio is an exceptional city in which every individual should feel welcome, and I believe that's intention of the authors of the ordinance. However, by alienating the majority of Texans who believe in traditional marriage and values, it is having the opposite effect. San Antonio Churches, families, and businesses feel less welcomed in their hometown as a result of this proposed ordinance, fearful that they may now be penalized or face costly lawsuits just for practicing their faith or expression their opinion.

Any ordinance that ostracizes a majority of its citizens for their personal religious beliefs is wrong, whether you agree with those beliefs or not. It threatens our liberty and epitomizes the worst of Big Government. This ordinance doesn't strengthen our rights as citizens. It weakens them.

I share the sentiments of Attorney General Greg Abbott and others who have spoken out against this ordinance. I believe it violates the Texas Constitution, will harm families and businesses, and has unnecessarily divided our city.

It is not without accident that the city of San Antonio is named after a saint. We have built a strong, vibrant, and culturally diverse community because we have always honored faith, freedom, and family. Let's not lose sight of these guiding principles.

Sincerely,

Donna Campbell, M.D.

State Senator Dan Patrick, (R-Houston), who is running for Lieutenant Governor, also came out against the ordinance.

“The proposed San Antonio ordinance runs counter to the Holy Bible and the United States Constitution,” Patrick said in a written statement. “I hope the San Antonio City Council considers the harm this ordinance will perpetrate on those who share my faith as well as the inevitable litigation before adopting this politically motivated measure.”

Patrick did not make any reference to any of the similar ordinances already enacted in the state's five other most populous cities, including his hometown of Houston.

The Texas Democratic Party has also issued a statement in support of the ordinance. Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa issued the following statement:

“We believe this ordinance should pass. Texans don't discriminate, and we're proud to stand on the right side of history by supporting non-discrimination. Veterans, religious leaders, and the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce have all stood up in support for the proposed ordinance in San Antonio. The Texas Democratic Party agrees with them that if your nephew happens to be gay, that doesn't give someone the right to fire him. Support of this ordinance is simply the right thing to do.”

As numerous city council members have come out in support of the ordinance, authors San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and Councilmen Diego Bernal should have at least six “yes” votes, the number needed to pass the ordinance.

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About Author

Omar Araiza

Staff writer Omar Araiza covers immigration, Latino voters, the U.S.-Mexico border, and LGBT issues. He is a proud South Texas native, born and raised in the lower Rio Grande Valley. Omar tweets from @AraizaTX.

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