Conservative have been incredibly outraged about a proposed LGBT nondiscrimination bill in San Antonio, Texas, as exemplified by repeated distortions from FOX News and hours of testimony from local residents, but it has passed with a vote of 8-3. Its opponents have claimed that it imposed on religious freedom by preventing Christians from discriminating against LGBT people and for taking such bias into consideration as grounds for removing a city official from office.
Notably, the bill was revised multiple times to appease some of these concerns. One change adjusted a provision that would have allowed past discriminatory intent to be considered with current appointments. The provision continues to exist in City Council law for other forms of discrimination, but will not apply to sexual orientation and gender identity. Despite continued fears that this was still part of the bill, it simply is not.
Another considered amendment allowed business owners to deny the use of restroom to transgender individuals. This exception would have allowed discrimination against transgender people to still continue in public accommodations throughout the city. Fortunately, it was removed before the final vote. The amendment’s consideration, however, reflected some of the nasty anti-LGBT rhetoric caught on tape being used by Councilwoman Elisa Chen, comments she has defended as being part of her freedom of speech.
The hours of anti-LGBT testimony are a harsh reminder that bigoted sentiment is still quite present in this country despite recent strides toward equality. Nevertheless, the passage of this imperfect legislation is an important step forward for protecting San Antonio citizens under the law from the discriminatory intent expressed by their neighbors.