| The drive to repeal San Antonio's recently passed LGBT non-discrimination ordinance has failed.
A group of churches (According to The Archdiocese of San Antoniono, none were Catholic Churches) opposed to the NDO sought to collect over 60,000 signatures, the number of names needed to place the ordinance on a citywide ballot for voters in 2015. They had exactly 40 days after the city council approved the measure to meet their deadline. The religious groups did not mention how many signatures they ultimately managed to collect.
San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro responded immediately after the petition failed:
"I'm glad people can move on from divisive attempts to undo an ordinance that was always commonsense about treating everybody the same," Castro said.
The hotly debated ordinance gained national attention after a secret recording of City Councilwoman Elisa Chan was released with very homophobic and transphobic remarks. This was also one of Castro's largest priorities since his DNC speech last year. Many wanted to see the rising national figure in action.
Read more about the ordinance, including Wendy Davis' bigger hopes for the law, below the jump.
|The ordinance grants gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender residents equal protections when it comes to job hiring, firing, public accommodations, housing and city employment and contracts as well as board and commission appointments by adding "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to the city's anti-discrimination code. San Antonio is the only major city in Texas that does not include protections for their LGBT residents in the municipal rulebook.
San Antonio's LGBT-right group, Community Alliance for a United San Antonio (CAUSA), co-chair Dan Graney made the following statement in a release delivered before the petition deadline.
"We consider this effort a huge waste of personnel, time and money by those who are motivated solely by hatred and bigotry against LGBT people in our city," said Graney. "The vast majority of Council members voted for the NDO and over 70 percent of San Antonio voters support LGBT protections in the workplace and in housing. Moreover, this is something that is policy in over 180 cities across the country and in 96 percent of Fortune 500 companies."
The effort to repeal the ordinance was spearheaded by Pastor Gerald Ripley, an original critic of the NDO.
"We did not collect the 61,045 signatures that we needed," Ripley said.
Those signatures would've represented 10 percent of eligible city voters, the quota required to force a referendum.
"The next step is 2015 and the city elections," Ripley said. "We will go to the 2015 election and find council representatives who will vote according to the will of the people."
Abbott and Davis have both spoken on the measure, holding complete opposite views on LGBT non-discrimination.
City Attorney Michael Bernard said if there are any legal challenges, the city will defend the updated ordinance.
While the non-discrimination ordinance repeal failed, the effort to recall council members who supported the ordinance continues.
Earlier this month at a town hall-style question-and-answer session in San Antonio, Wendy Davis answered a question regarding the city's NDO, saying she hopes these kinds of pro-LGBT laws would become "commonplace" throughout Texas.
"I hope that it becomes something that is commonplace," Davis said. "I look forward to a Texas where we see that in every city in the state." Later, speaking to reporters, Davis said it's "important that people be treated equally in the workplace, plain and simple."
Davis worked on a similar measure when she was on the Fort Worth City Council.
Greg Abbott has spoken against San Antonio's NDO multiple times now. Abbott spokesman Matt Hirsch said that as a general rule, employers provide "equal opportunities for job seekers" and usually don't ask about sexual orientation. Hirsch said Abbott remained troubled by the type of nondiscrimination measure San Antonio adopted.
"Greg Abbott believes that private companies should make employment decisions consistent with the laws of the United States and Texas, and in the best interests of their customers and shareholders," Hirsch said. "However, both the U.S. and Texas Constitutions protect faith-based organizations from being coerced into employing persons in a way that would require them to violate their faith."
Texas is one of the 29 states where gays and lesbians can be fired or evicted at will. Only 21 states and Washington, D.C. ban discrimination based on sexual orientation, and all but 5 also include protections for gender identity.
No federal legislation currently exists that protects LGBT citizens from discrimination.
Edited at 9:58am to include Archdiocese of San Antonio's clarification of no Catholic Churches participating in event.