San Antonio Passes Sweeping Anti-Discrimination Ordinance Into Law

The San Antonio City Council elected to side with common sense and basic human decency yesterday when it voted to include sexual orientation and gender identity in the city’s non-discrimination ordinance.

The new amendment, which was effective immediately upon its passage, is wide-reaching. It prevents business owners from, say, kicking LGBT people out of their establishments due to their orientation, which they were legally allowed to do before yesterday. It also bans employers and landlords from rejecting applicants based solely on their gender or sexual orientation, which was also somehow legal up to this point, and makes it illegal for public officials to discriminate in those grounds as well (at least whilst acting in their official capacities).

“This city has a lot going for it, and I believe that this ordinance will help ensure that everybody in our city is treated equally,” said Mayor Julian Castro, a big supporter of the bill. “You’re going to be treated the same way whether you’re Christian, white, Hispanic or...part of the LGBT community.”

While the 8-3 vote itself wasn’t all that close, plenty of elected officials are outraged at the notion of a civil society that treats LGBT people as equals. Attorney General Greg Abbott, who’s running to replace Rick Perry in the governor’s mansion, made the implausible claim that the measure violates the First Amendment and called it tantamount to “thought and speech control.” Meanwhile, District 9 Councilwoman Elisa Chan made her views clear when she flat-out called gay people “disgusting” in a discussion on the legislation last month (she voted against the bill).

And Castro, who gave the keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention last year and is considered a rising star in the party, faced a significant backlash in supporting the bill. Abbott sent him a letter yesterday in which he essentially pledged to sue the city if the ordinance passed, and a recall petition against Castro has already been put in motion.

You’d almost think San Antonio was the only Texas city to legislate equal treatment for its LGBT community, but it isn’t. Similar protections have already been passed in Houston, Fort Worth, Dallas and Austin, and were in fact a model for the San Antonio legislation.

Image: Getty