San Antonio City Council Chambers were at capacity as hundreds more formed a line stretching around the building Wednesday hoping to get inside to speak before the council about the city’s proposed Non-Discrimination Ordinance.
The hotly debated ordinance would add sexual and gender identity to the list of protected classes. But in controversial wording of the ordinance, some opposing it say it would discriminate against those who do not agree with homosexuality.
“I feel like our city council has proposed this in a way that puts me as a pastor, as a minister of the gospel, in opposition of people who I am not opposed to,” said pastor Marty Gaines. “I think its divisive.”
Nancy Russell, a retired service member and member of the LGBT community, argued that the ordinance provides her the equality she worked for.
“I served my country to protect equal rights of all Americans - rights I still don’t have myself because of the blatant ignorance of a small percentage,” Russell said.
Moments after comments began, a protest outside could be heard as supporters of the ordinance chanted “equal rights now.” Groups opposing it chanted “no” while some prayed.
Supporters wore red; those opposed dressed in blue.
Reverend Mick Hinson told the council the protections provided by the ordinance are what service men and women fight for.
“How many more have to die? How many more have to live lives that are oppressed, enslaved because of fear-driven ignorance, bigotry, homophobia and transphobia?” he asked.
“I suspect that this is actually a political agenda being shoved upon us by some who want to please the elite in Washington because they’d like to move there someday,” said Brenda Saunders said to the council. “We see you. Your agenda is showing.”
City staff said the Citizens to Be Heard session will last until all those who signed up have had a chance to speak.
No action was to be taken by the council Wednesday. The council is expected to vote on the ordinance Sept. 5.