As parts of the United States continue to evolve on the issues of LGBT equality, progressives in Texas often feel like they’re running behind. and of course they feel that way because they are. The Republican-controlled state government has pledged pledged at every turn to deny reality, and actively promote LGBT discrimination.
An issue that starkly divided San Antonio this summer was resolved Thursday when the City Council approved an ordinance that adds protections for sexual orientation, gender identity and veteran status to the city code.
In four separate public forums since mid-August, more than 1,500 people approached the dais at City Hall and addressed the council, speaking passionately in support of and against the ordinance that drew national attention. Final public comments were heard about three hours before the council took its vote.
In separate votes, the council approved adding veteran status 9-2, and approved adding LGBT protections 8-3.
“It’s a common-sense ordinance that’s going to treat everyone equally,” Mayor Julián Castro said after the vote. “Nobody will be a second-class citizen in San Antonio. Here, there will be basic fairness and common decency for everybody.”
This ordinance is definitely historic for the city of San Antonio, but it is not without state precedent. Houston’s non discrimination ordinance protects people based on race, religion, gender and sexual preference. But in 2010, Houston Mayor Annise Parker extended further non discrimination protections to city employees and contractors by executive order. The cities of Austin, Dallas and Fort Worth have the most comprehensive non discrimination ordinances in the state of Texas.
But given the fight that ensued just to extend these basic protections to municipal employees, one has to salute Mayor Castro and Council for having the guts to advance equality in the Alamo City. Congratulations San Antonio!