People on both sides of the gay rights divide are fired up, after 1200 WOAI news Monday revealed a plan for the lame duck San Antonio City Council to approve protections for gays, lesbians, and those with 'gender identity' issues under the city's anti-discrimination law, 1200 WOAI news reports.
"All residents of San Antonio should be treated fairly and equally under the laws of the city," said Chuck Smith, President of the group Equality Texas, which fight for GLBT rights. "The reality is that the current non discrimination law does not include sexual orientation or gender identity expression."
Smith pointed out that in San Antonio, unlike in every other major city in Texas which has protections for these individuals, somebody can be fired from a job only for being gay, and they have no recourse.
"Most Texans do believe that other Texas residents should be treated fairly and equally," he said.
But several social conservative groups under the banner of the Responsible Government Coalition feel differently. They say the law will burden business with the need to deal with people with 'self declared' discrimination complaints, and they plan to rally at City Hall tomorrow.
They are demanding that exceptions be carved out for religious institutions which believe that homosexuality is a sin, and don't want to be required to hire gays. Most of the 170 cities nationwide which have similar laws do in fact provide exceptions for religious institutions.
They also call the 'gender identity' portion of the measure 'the Bathroom Bill,' claiming that it would require businesses to open women's restrooms to me who 'claim' to be 'gender conflicted,' exposing women to sexual abuse. This has not been a problem in other cities which have similar measures.
Smith says the proposal will not cause any problems for the vast majority of businesses which would never dream of firing somebody simply for their sexual preference. The measure would simply add 'sexual orientation' and 'gender identity' to the list of individuals who cannot face discrimination in housing, contracting, employment, and in 'public accommodations,' meaning operations like bars, restaurants, and shopping malls.
"All hard working people in San Antonio should have a chance to earn a living and provide for their families without the fear that they could be legally fired for reasons that don't have anything to do with their job performance," Smith said.