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Religious Leaders, Veterans Say Opposition to LGBT Non-Discrimination Ordinance Disturbing, Shameful

August 21, 2013

During a Wednesday morning press conference, local gay rights activists announced that more than 50 religious leaders have pledged their support for the city’s proposed LGBT non-discrimination ordinance. Held by advocacy group, the Community Alliance for a United San Antonio (CAUSA), local faith leaders from various dominations, combat veterans and business owners spoke out on the pressing need for the LGBT equality measure.

Religious leaders and LGBT veterans, like Eric Alva, expressed their support for the city's proposed LGBT equality ordinance during a Wednesday press conference outside City Hall. Photo by Mary Tuma.

Religious leaders and LGBT veterans, like Eric Alva, expressed their support for the city’s proposed LGBT equality ordinance during a Wednesday press conference outside City Hall. Photo by Mary Tuma.

“We think God’s justice reaches out and includes all people … our LGBT brothers and sisters have a right not to be afraid of someone terminating them from a job because of their sexual orientation. That is clear and that is why we stand here today,” said Travis Park United Methodist Church Associate Pastor Dale Tremper.

The meeting follows yesterday’s press conference by council member Elisa Chan, who took the opportunity to finally respond to the anti-LGBT comments she made during a recently exposed secretly recorded conversation with staff. Chan defended her remarks under the First Amendment and stopped short of an apology.

Eric Alva, the first solider wounded in Iraq, highlighted the hypocrisy of Chan’s words, saying that while the council member uses free speech as a defense, she is shutting out her constituents from dialogue.

“I am here to today to express, as we’ve heard the last few days, my freedom of speech, which I feel I have earned when I lost my right leg on the first day of Operation Iraqi Freedom,” said Alva, a native of San Antonio. When delivering testimony in support of the LGBT equality ordinance during a recent city council Citizens Heard meeting, those in the crowd who opposed the measure booed the disabled gay veteran, attracting national criticism.

“Elisa Chan is right, she is entitled to her freedom of speech, as well as anyone else in this country, I will never dispute that. But what about the freedom of speech of her constituents that are asking Ms. Chan for her support of this ordinance? She is not taking any meetings from anyone, no one on her staff is taking meetings, so I ask you­– what about their freedom of speech?” said Alva.

“When this ordinance passes, because it will, I will never have to worry about getting fired from a job, getting denied employment from a job or even being banned from an establishment for who I am,” he continued.

Jennifer Ingram, a transgender combat veteran asked the community to imagine being denied a hotel room or medical care after having served your country in war. Joedy Yglesias, a veteran and state chapter leader of OutServe, a military service for the LGBT community’s veterans and their families reiterated the thought.

“Texas and San Antonio has hundreds and hundreds of active duty LGBT service members and I think it’s a shame that people like Elisa Chan don’t believe that we are entitled to the same rights and protections that we are prepared to lay our lives down for,” said Yglesias.

Representing U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, LGBT veteran Guillermo Villarreal, vocalized his frustration with the double standard, as well.

“I find it disturbing and I hope my fellow San Antonioians find it disturbing that while we are good enough to die for these rights we are certainly not good enough to be afforded protection that these rights come with,” he said.

Jody Newman, owner of local business The Friendly Spot and self-proclaimed conservative Catholic, also chimed in her support. “Eliminating the possibility of discrimination empowers all employees to focus on their work, their families and their communities,” she said. Responding to Chan’s free speech defense, Newman said, “I’m not a legal expert but I just don’t think it makes you a good person to say something like that, it doesn’t matter if you’re legally able to say it […] it does not make her a good steward of the community.”

DeeDee Belmares, co-chair of CAUSA, closed by saying Chan has the right to express her views but that as an elected official she should be held to a higher standard. Belmares called her comments, “ignorant, bigoted and hurtful” especially to Chan’s LGBT constituents and that her homophobic remarks clearly demonstrated the need for the non-discrimination ordinance. Belmares noted that Chan did not offer an apology and has yet to respond to calls to meet with the LGBT community.

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  • george

    Really! And who are the religious leaders? I didn’t know we had so many.

  • Todd Dyke

    Yes, name these phantom “leaders”. Who are they leading, who’s their followers? There is indeed a church movement who pick and choose things from the gospel to live by, like a veritable buffet table. Like the ‘have your cake and eat it too’, yet theirs would go, ‘embrace your sin and live godly too’. It wont work. Homosexual lifestyle and Christianity are contradictory, irreconcilable world views – mutually-exclusive. For one to be embraced, the other must be abolished. In the context of the ordinance, one must be abolished from the public square in order to foster and promote the other.

  • Riely

    Did you read the article, Todd Dyke? In case you didn’t know, or maybe have been living in some cave for the last 25 years, there are entire movements, within every Christian sect, toward reconciliation, acceptance, and celebration of the dignity of homosexuals, as part of God’s creation. News flash, Mr. Dyke— You don’t get to set the rules for the entire known universe! Hey, the fire & brimstone you spout is exciting and all, but that is your interpretation and your opinion. Nothing more, nothing less. Have a blessed evening! Love the name, by the way………

  • Todd Dyke

    LGBT nondiscrimination forces Christians to abandon their Christian consciences under penalty of law, criminalizing embracing of the Judeo-Christian sexual ethic in the public square. I’ve followed these activists for years, and they pay lip service to universal values of fairness and rightiousness and down-home sensibilities, yet they are absolutely at war with this nation’s moral legacy and push to stamp it out utterly beneath it’s immense totalitarian boot of intolerance. That is their modus operandi. But they disguise it so well, play victim mongering so well, replete with cozy buzzwords to disarm you. Things like “inclusiveness” “equality” “diversity” and “tolerance” but those pushing for gay rights are the most INtolerant people there is.

    Remember God told the adulterer, “go and sin no more”? Well, this is the example that contradicts the very basis of this sacurrent article.

    You know, on the equality Texas’ facebook page, there was a comment from a gay man that was incredulous as to the magnitude of this push for [ostensibly] fighting discrimination in San Antonio. This man, who says he’s “openly gay” says he’s not once been targeted for his sexuality, and only once has that happened – “in Austin”, and he goes on to express that he feels ordinance is for “political gain”. Needless to say, Equality Texas- the ones pushing for S.A. nondiscrimination, yanked his comment almost immediately. Now why do you suppose they did that?

  • Todd Dyke

    I’ve seen where gay activists will purposefully target reputably-Christian business in order to set them up for a lawsuit. When they win that lawsuit, it sets a precedent, and then they go to the next, and the next and the next, until everyone with an embrace of faith backs down and uses their own personal (Christian) capacity to foster, host, endorse, and promote homosexuality/transexuality in order not to be hit with a crippling lawsuit. When you have that kind of infiltration, that kind of aquiescence, it effectively homosexualizes an entire city, where gays and transsexuals basically rule, bestowed superior rights – a process that ushers Christians ‘in the closet’ en masse.

  • Todd Dyke

    THEN we can start the comparisons with San Francisco, and then we can officially change our zip code to Sodom and Gomorrah. Get City Council to vote down this satanically-inspired legislation.

  • Todd Dyke

    A sexual appetite does not a person make. Researchers, for years, have tried in vain to find a biological indicator of homosexuality, but they failed because there is none. If there’s no biological basis for it, then it exists only in the realm of subjectivity, and thus there’s nothing to merit that group having it’s own distinct civil rights.

    We don’t codify *feelings* and personal nuances into public policy. If we did, I have a lot of personal nuances I’d like to be made into public policy.

    This whole thing with gay activism, nondiscrimination and all, is treading upon a slippery slope – leading ever-downward into a cesspool of depravity. Such an environment is the perfect one for homosexuality – that 3% of the population – but a nightmare for the remaining 97% – those who adhere to values-based living.

  • Lee

    In regards to the science part of homosexuality, while there may not be concrete proof just yet, there is a new development. “Epi-marks” are found to be linked to homosexuality, more research is currently being conducted. In the same token, when did heterosexual people decide to be attracted to the opposite sex or where is the scientific proof that all are born with a “straight gene”? I understand why religious people are against homosexuality just as I understand why they are against eating shellfish, or working on a Sunday. I was raised to show love to all people, whether or not they shared my views. I do not recall Jesus ever saying to condem others. In fact if I remember correctly, he kissed his enemy and asked for his forgiveness, he never condemned him in any manner.

  • Riely

    Um…… Wow! “Change our zip code to Sodom and Gomorrah”? “It effectively homosexualizes [sic] an entire city”? This is truly hot stuff you’re dreaming up, Mr. Dyke! Too bad for you, though, that it has absolutely no basis in reality.

  • Riely

    Maybe you don’t know this from your own experience, but sexual appetite is the least of it, Mr. Dyke. Just like heterosexual people, gays and lesbians fall in love and form lifelong bonds. Of course, we know that all straight people don’t manage to do that, or do it serially, but who are we to judge? Any mention of pedophilia, bestiality, or incest is a red herring. And, let any proponent of polygamy speak for himself— they are probably going to be Christians anyway, so we’ll let you work that out on your own with your brethren in Christ. We don’t have anything to do with that, and you know it. The point is EQUALITY, Mr. Dyke. And, whether you like it or not, we’re going to achieve it! It’s already on our borders— did you read about New Mexico today? Get used to it, Dyke.

  • Riely

    How, in God’s name, could anyone ever force you to abandon your Christian conscience? That makes no sense.

    Of course, if your Christian conscience leads you to discriminate against people, then you must deal with the consequences of that. But, where in the Bible does it say that being a Christian is easy?

    There are lots of Christians who disagree with you about this whole subject, by the way. Have you ever talked to them?

  • Randy Bear

    Todd you really have? If so, you should be able to provide references to what you’ve seen.

    I’ve seen where Christians try to exploit these equality protections for their own “religious liberty” fight. In fact, the Liberty Institute was preparing a challenge when the prior history section, a section that was inadvertently left in, was removed. That was actually documented on The Source when Justin Butterfield of the Liberty Institute hinted at the lawsuit. The institute has stated they were looking for a test case.

    BTW, your extreme views would make a good sensational movie like the ones where asteroids hit the Earth.

  • Randy Bear

    Todd so let’s go through this entire “my religion is the only right religion” mantra you keep pushing. First of all, I attend Madision Square Presbyterian Church, one of the actual church leaders that supports this ordinance. That church is tolerant of LGBT individuals. In fact, Christ never condemned homosexuals. But, since you brought up the adulterer, he did condemn those who entered into divorce. I’m assuming your church tolerates divorcees? If so, aren’t you guys kind of hypocritical on the whole tolerance thing?

    Secondly, have you ever heard of the TX Declaration of Causes for secession? If not, here’s a section that basically justified slavery as guaranteed by God: “That in this free government all white men are and of right ought to be entitled to equal civil and political rights; that the servitude of the African race, as existing in these States, is mutually beneficial to both bond and free, and is abundantly authorized and justified by the experience of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Creator, as recognized by all Christian nations;”

    So, people like you have used the Bible to justify all kinds of oppression, including oppressing LGBT individuals. But I’m sure you feel completely justified in your position as the “revealed will of the Almighty Creator, as recognized by all Christian nations.”

  • Kelli Maples

    Another news flash Dyke: They haven’t found found a biological indicator for heterosexuality either. While they don’t have definitive proof, based on what they know, there are strong indicators that point to there being concrete physiological reasons why someone is gay or straight. So much so, that most scientists, the AMA and the APA believe it to be true. Also being gay or even straight is not a basis for being proclaimed “depraved”. Your values are yours to follow and profess, by the way. But once you step over into secular society, your rights to discriminate against small marginalized groups…..END. This country was not based on allowing a few religious groups to dictate their particular brand of “law” into society. While you strive to dictate your beliefs so you can discriminate against something you, no doubt, find “disgusting”, we in the LGBT community strive to gain equal rights; rights that you already have. Many people outside the LGBT community, agree with us. In fact the majority of Americans do. So feel free to issue statements full of ignorance and hate. We’ll win in the long run, as have African Americans, women, the handicapped, etc.

  • radsenior

    I have been taught my whole life that God does not make mistakes. The LGBT community only wants what every other American citizen wants, life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Everyone’s life style is their own to choose, and only God has the right to judge another person and how they lived their lives. Every gay person in America should have the sme rights as everyone else, without exception. But people have been taught by peers, parents, partners and preachers and politicals to hate, segregate and ostracize! It is no other person’s right to force their religious belief’s onto another. There is a “concentration of wealth in the hands of fewer and fewer people and the concentration of power in stricter, less compassionate hands!” The stricter, less compassionate hands call themselves conservatives, rant about the budget and pass taxes onto the poor while shutting down the Government over ObamaCare, not raise the debt ceiling, restricting Voters and voting access, re-defining rape, closing of Planned Parenthood and forced intrusive medical examinations on women. Stand your ground when voting. DO NOT ALLOW OTHERS TO KEEP YOU FROM VOTING. REGISTER OTHERS TO VOTE! GET OUT THE VOTE! DO NOT ALLOW OTHERS TO KEEP YOU FROM VOTING. V.O.T.E.(Vote Out The Encumberance)

  • jim

    i’ve seen gays with jobs and gays living together. if they want to be recognized as married couples in the eyes of the government, fine. fight that battle. just stop forcing your lifestyle on us and making a big never ending fuss about it. it’s fkn annoying.

  • worldemoc

    The Reason WE have Freedom of Speech is to DESCENT Against BAD LAWS or to applaud laws One Supports, Whether they Be in a Constitution or Laws and Ordinances. Only if One Person Stands Up against Any Concern they Hold and Speaks Out , IT IS HIS OR HER RIGHT TO DO SO! Because in the U.S., WE THE PEOPLE may Change the Law! Without Freedom of Speech that Goes Away!! Freedom of Speech, Press, Assembly, and Religion are Our Cherished Supreme Laws which requires a US Constitutional Amendment To Alter!
    So You Cannot Keep Citizens from Speaking their Minds on ANY ISSUE, OR Remove Their RIGHTS To PARTICIPATE IN THE DEMOCRACY, such as Holding Office!
    WITHOUT REAL DEMOCRACY THERE IS CHAOS AND VIOLENCE. That’s what WE Don’t want!

  • katherane

    San Antonio Silver Stars player Sophia Young has publically said she wants this to be a NO vote. She has used religion to spread her hate. Her church leaders have told them if this passes that the city of san antonio will allow gay marriage. Even after being educated more and how its about discrimination against not onky gay people but also military vets and disabled people she chose to say her views havent changed.

    The silver stars have military appreciation night saturday and I am hoping every gay and every military person there boo’s her and also lets the organizatiom know that she is unwanted in san antonio