San Antonio’s newly passed LGBT nondiscrimination protections created quite an uproar, particularly because the bill’s original draft included a provision that would have disqualified city appointees who have discriminated based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the past. (Such restrictions already existed — and still persist — for other forms of discrimination, like race and sex.) After its passage, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) said he was seriously considering filing suit against the law, arguing that it it “seems to silence anyone who may have a disagreement with that ordinance.” Now he’s changed his mind.
It seems that Abbott has finally read the law as it was passed and has decided not to challenge it. According to Jerry Strickland, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office, Abbott doesn’t seem to think he’d have a case anymore:
We are pleased the city council heeded our advice and deleted this provision, which surely would have been grounds for a constitutional challenge to the ordinance. We will continue to review the ordinance and monitor the situation.
This is incredible spin, considering Abbott did not threaten to challenge the law until after it had already passed — the council had apparently heeded his advice before he’d even dispensed it. What seems more likely is that Abbott was compelled not by his duties to upholding the Texas Constitution, but by the rampant distortion propagated by right-wing media. Indeed, this distortion continues even in the wake of the bill’s passage, with Pat Robertson and his Christian Broadcast Network continuing to argue this week that the ordinance will put Christians in jail.
There is one consequence to the passage of San Antonio’s nondiscrimination ordinance: the LGBT community now has legal protections should they be discriminated against in employment, housing, or public accommodations. As long as Christians — or anybody else — do not try to deprive LGBT people of access to such basic needs as a job, a home, or a place to buy groceries, they will have nothing to worry about. It remains unclear what situation there is to monitor.