(Or, how I ensure that I never run for office in San Antonio.)
For the last few months, the San Antonio City Council has been considering a “Non-discrimination ordinance” in which they pretty much discriminate against the First Amendment rights of free speech or free exercise of religion. If passed, it would prevent anyone in the City of San Antonio from running for office or being appointed to a citizens’ committee – or from holding office if elected – who advocates for traditional marriage or speaks or writes about their religious belief that homosexuality is a sin. It also looks like a great way to slide into a San Francisco-style attempt to give out same sex marriage licenses.
Sec. 2-552. – Appointed Officials, Boards and Commissions.
(a) Appointments to Boards and Commissions.
When making appointments to boards and commissions, the City shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, age or handicap disability.
(b) Prior Discriminatory Acts.
No person shall be appointed to a position if the City Council finds that such person has, prior to such proposed appointment, engaged in discrimination or demonstrated a bias, by word or deed, against any person, group or organization on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, age, or handicap disability.
(c) Discrimination by Appointed Officials – Malfeasance.
(1) No appointed official or member of a board or commission shall engage in discrimination or demonstrate a bias, by word or deed, against any person, group of persons, or organization on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, age or handicap disability, while serving in such public position.
(2) Violation of this standard shall be considered malfeasance in office, and the City Council shall be authorized to take action as provided by law to remove the offending person from office.
Once the City tramples on the First Amendment, it’s not so hard to take (more) control of what should be private property and the free citizen’s means to make a living.
Property owners in San Antonio are no different from those in most cities. They don’t really own their property. They merely pay rent in the form of taxes and fees for the right to use it until a majority of their neighbors – or their elected representatives – decide to take control of a portion of it. If you don’t believe me, just try to build a home 1 foot higher than City ordinance allows or buy a house across the street from Schlitterbahn in my town of New Braunfels with the intention of renting it by the night or week to tourists.
But the new San Antonio ordinance goes a little farther. It doesn’t just prohibit action – it forces action by creating a new Class C misdemeanor for discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation. So, everyone who sells their home, rents their property or makes a living as a wedding photographer would now be forced to rent or sell to, or work for people engaged in activities that goes against their religion.
SECTION 10. Discriminatory practices in the provision of public accommodations and housing shall be a Class C misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be punishable in accordance with Chapter 1, Section 1-5 of the City Code. The penalties contained herein are non-exclusive and the City shall have any and all remedies to which it may be entitled in law or in equity. The exercise of any penalty or remedy by City shall not be deemed as a waiver of any other remedy to which the CITY may be entitled.
City Council member Diego Bernal has said he plans to take out the section about bias. However, nothing’s official, yet. If you would like to let the Council know how you feel before they consider the ordinance on August 2, you can read the actual ordinance, here. That link also has the names of Council members and their phone numbers.