Decision Day in San Antonio on Nondiscrimination Ordinance
September 5, 2013 by Shelena Williams, Regional Field Organizer
Upon arriving this morning at the San Antonio City Hall to help our friends at CAUSA prepare for today's historic vote in our country's seventh most populous city, I was met by over 200 people already lining up to get inside. The excitement and anxiety is palpable!
Hopefully, in a few hours the San Antonio City Council, with the support of Mayor Julian Castro, will pass the ordinance expanding the city's nondiscrimination policies on the bases of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and veteran’s status. This bill would extend non-discrimination protections in employment to public employees and city contractors, as well as provide protections in the areas of housing and public accommodations.
Tension has been building in San Antonio for months, with a groundswell of media attention being placed on this common-sense ordinance. From disparaging remarks from Councilwoman Elisia Chan (D9), to the opposition using religious-based hate to justify discrimination against a class of people. HRC and our coalition partners have been working to educate council members about the importance of gender identity protections and insisting that well-intentioned but harmful provisions be removed from the bill. We are confident that our concerns have been heard and that the bill that will be voted on today will be respectful and inclusive.
Karin Quimby and I have been on the ground alongside our hardworking volunteers in San Antonio for the past nine months, working with CAUSA and other allies for equality such as Equality Texas, the Transgender Education Network of Texas, and the San Antonio Gender Alliance. Together, we have organized meetings with city councilors, organized phone banks, and mobilized support across this great Texas city. Investing nine months in this effort was a lot, but was critical to paving the way for today’s hoped-for success.
While we expect today's public comment to be contentious, I have faith that the months of organizing will pay off today and that during today’s vote this wonderful city will come together and respect their neighbors.
Stay tuned to the HRC Blog for updates throughout the day on the vote. Watch the livestream of the city council hearing here.
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