September 4, 2013
Dear Councilmember Bernal,
Wow! Who’da thunk that an ordinance making it harder to discriminate against our citizens would be so divisive? You have had your work cut out for you over the last couple of months, but more specifically in these last couple of weeks.
Now, contrary to the most recent claims by District 9 Representative Elisa Chan, who believes there has been a “lack of public process,” I am delighted with the public input — both positive and negative. The overwhelming participation in the crafting of this ordinance has been exciting to see, especially for a city that lacks participation in local elections. I hope that this process translates to more votes in our next municipal elections as more people have come to realize the direct effect our city leaders can have on our daily lives.
Ms. Chan believes there are “three main reasons this ordinance is so divisive: 1) lack of public process; 2) lack of clarity in the proposed NDO; 3) potential infringement of freedom of speech and freedom of religion.”
While I could summarily pick apart each of her arguments — I mean, those three “reasons” are part of the Shiny Object Politics that have made this ordinance in particular so divisive — I choose instead to give you my own list of reasons.
Because It Makes Good Economic Sense
Businesses that have this non-discrimination ordinance in place will be hard-pressed to recruit members of the LGBT community to their companies if the City doesn’t have this standard ordinance in place. Perhaps this pleases certain members of our society — why recruit more of “those people” to our city? — but a business who can’t recruit won’t choose San Antonio for its headquarters. That’s logic. Examples of businesses who already have non-discrimination clauses in place are USAA, Rackspace Hosting, and Spurs Sports and Entertainment.
Because It Makes Good Political Sense
With less than 25% (give or take a few percentage points) of our Boards and Commissions filled, we can’t afford to lose out on capable candidates who want to serve our city because they are not included in a non-discrimination ordinance.
Because It Makes Good Military Sense
As a “Military City,” we can’t afford to show members of our armed forces that while the federal government recognizes all classes, we, as a City, do not. Yep, that’s right…the military is no longer a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” organization. They are now the organization that releases statements like the following:
“Every person who serves our nation in uniform stepped forward with courage and commitment. All that matters is their patriotism, their willingness to serve their country and their qualifications to do so. Today’s ruling helps ensure that all men and women who serve this country can be treated fairly and equally, with the full dignity and respect they so richly deserve” (Released June 26, 2013, Statement by Secretary Hagel).
Because This Isn’t About Acceptance, It’s About Discrimination
“Just because I disagree with the lifestyle choices of the LGBT community does not mean that I dislike them. Similarly, just because one opposes the proposed NDO does not mean that one is FOR discrimination!” This is part of Representative Chan’s opposition to the NDO as written in her letter to “District 9 Residents and Friends” dated September 3, 2013.
Let me be clear: I don’t need your acceptance. I am comfortable with who I am as a human being without your stamp of approval. I would simply like an affirmative vote on an ordinance.
You see, whereas Ms. Chan might merely “disagree” with my “lifestyle choice,” which ultimately would never sway her decisions about me while in office, there are perhaps others who are not as evolved as she is, that will allow their opposition to my “lifestyle” to discriminate against me. Perhaps this will translate to my denial to a city commission. Mayhaps this will come to fruition in a city contract I am not given. Or this could play out after an application to work for the City of San Antonio is denied.
The non-discrimination ordinance, which has been updated to read as such, “It shall be the general policy of the City of San Antonio to prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, age or disability, as set forth in the Divisions following, unless exempted by state or federal law or as otherwise indicated,” makes it impossible for those who may not be as adept as Ms. Chan in separating their personal and public lives from discriminating against me.
We are a city on the rise, and you are a representative of that city. Here’s hoping we can rise above this anger and vitriol and just make good policy sense.
Resident, District 1
Ginormous Lesbian, Unfortunate Last Name