After two months of the most emotional and dramatic public debate heard in San Antonio in twenty years, City Council today is expected to vote, probably by a vote of 9-2, to approve that Gay and Lesbian Non Discrimination Ordinance, 1200 WOAI news reports.
The final public comment period on the ordinance didn't end until 1 this morning, after going on non stop from six last night. It is the second marathon public comment session on the measure, which would add gays and transgendered individuals to the city's anti discrimination ordinance, which now protects almost everybody from discrimination. It is currently illegal to discriminate against people based on sex, race, ethnicity, age (over 40!), disability, or on several other grounds.
This proposal would add sexual orientation, gender preference, and veteran status to the law.
Opponents of the measure state that it violates their religious liberty and requires people to 'choose between their religious beliefs and following the law.' Many are worried that quoting Bible passages in church, for example, will get them barred from serving on city boards, prompt an investigation by an Orwellian 'human rights commission' and even end with criminal charges.
Similar laws are in place in several other Texas cities. The City of Austin passed one in 2004, and Austin Civil Rights Chair Paul Rhea says when it comes to gays and lesbians, the biggest place that discrimination has been found has been in housing, specifically, gay couples being told that an apartment for rent is 'no longer available.'
"This gives them a way for them to go to their city so those businesses know that discrimination is not acceptable," Rhea said.
He said there has not been the floor of male perverts claiming to be 'transgendered' so they can use women's restrooms and gawk at little girls, as some opponents have predicted.
Rhea says the existence of an NDO in Austin has actually been good for businesses. He says some businesses have citied the NDO as a reason to locate in Austin.
"When businesses look at places to relocate, they look at the way that citizens are treated in the city," he said.