Conservatives have been up in arms about a proposed bill in San Antonio, Texas that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to all of the city’s nondiscrimination policies, including employment, housing, and public accommodations. It also includes a provision allowing the City Council to consider the discriminatory practices of potential contractors — a policy that already existed but was not LGBT-inclusive. Conservatives have argued that the policy specifically targets Christians, even though that there is nothing in the proposal to justify such claims.
The heated arguments over the nondiscrimination ordinance have led to some disappointing public displays of homophobia. Eric Alva, a gay marine veteran — and the first U.S. soldier to have been injured in Iraq — attended a Council Meeting last Wednesday night to speak on behalf of the bill and the crowd proceeded to boo him. Before leaving the podium, he called out his religious detractors: “To all you people that preach the word of God, shame on you because God loves me, like the day I laid bleeding on the sands of Iraq and that’s why he saved me.”
Perhaps more troubling is a secret tape that was recently released of San Antonio Councilwoman Elisa Chan trying to strategize against the proposal. Recorded at a meeting in May, the tape reveals Chan calling homosexuality “so disgusting” and telling her staff what talking points to include in an op-ed to make her sound less less offensive, suggesting, “Maybe I say I was not educated on what transgender is about.” Here are some excerpts:
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… You see two men go into a bedroom. You see two women kissing. Is that not confusing? It’s confusing. [...]
We do not want to attack any group. I’m respectful of their choices, right? Even though I don’t believe that, but they’re free people, they can do whatever they want to do. But … don’t just come back and say you’re being discriminated.
Listen to the whole “disgusting” recording, as released to the San Antonio Express-News:
Chan’s staff and the comments made by other conservative groups demonstrate a deficit of understanding about sexual orientation and gender identity. Homophobia and transphobia are readily apparent and being used to justify discrimination against the LGBT community, even if the talking points are sugar-coated for public compensation.
Chan is defending her comments, saying they were simply her “personal opinions and thoughts as guaranteed to me by the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.” She did not address the substance of her remarks, merely promising to “fight for our freedom of speech, especially in a private setting.”