Mayor Slams LGBT Activist Group's "Travel Advisory"
|San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro|
SAN ANTONIO -- As the controversy over the LGBT nondiscrimination ordinance continues to roil political discussions in this southwestern Texas city, San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro fired back at a travel alert issued by LGBT activist group GetEQUAL Texas.
The “travel alert” was issued after a city council session last week during which an openly gay and highly decorated former U. S. combat Marine was booed after voicing his support for the ordinance, and the disclosure two days later of a secret recording of City Councilwoman Elisa Chan making homophobic and disparaging remarks about LGBT people.
The alert warns lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender travelers to avoid San Antonio until the city takes action on a hotly debated nondiscrimination ordinance. The advisory also claimed that city officials have “repeatedly delayed a vote on the ordinance,” and that Councilwoman Elisa Chan and others have “been very vocal in their opposition.”
Castro, aiming his ire at a travel alert fired back Tuesday;
“This advisory unnecessarily stands to hurt the city. The fact is that San Antonio always has been and remains welcoming to all. The city has a history of welcoming all visitors," he said adding [that the city] "is set to vote in two weeks on a nondiscrimination ordinance that will provide protections for the LGBT community."
Castro noted his record of supporting gay marriage and the city's 2011 adoption of benefits for domestic partners of city employees. The city also added sexual orientation to the categories of protections for its employees in 2007, he said.
Discussing Councilwoman Chan's comments, the mayor noted that her comments illuminate a “level of bias and ignorance that's astonishing, adding, “We're going to take up this issue on Sept. 5, and my hope is that Councilwoman Chan will support the ordinance,” he said. “We can bring the council and community together in support of a well-written ordinance that respects individual beliefs and protects from discrimination.”
Castro said the timeline for adoption of the ordinance has not been significantly delayed. “This schedule has been in place for quite a while now, and we're set to vote on September 5," he said.
In the first half of 2013, the San Antonio Police Department documented six hate crimes — offenses “against persons, property, or society” with motives involving “race, religion, ethnic/national origin, gender, age, disability, or sexual orientation.” According to FBI hate-crime statistics, Texas ranked 10th among U.S. states in the number of reported hate crimes in 2011, with 152 incidents. That year, San Antonio had two reported hate crimes, both linked to sexual orientation.
“As the No. 1 leisure destination in Texas, we welcome millions on an annual basis, and the safety and comfort of all our visitors is a top priority for us,” said Casandra Matej, executive director of the San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau.