The San Antonio City Council is scheduled to vote on the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance Thursday, but some members say the policy’s language leaves the city open to potential lawsuits.
“Because of the ambiguity of the language, and when we are actually able to give people a Class C Misdemeanor, we need to make sure the language is concise and is not ambiguous because that would leave us open for a lawsuit,” said District 9 Councilwoman Elisa Chan.
District 1 Councilman Diego Bernal said simply updating the city’s policy puts the city in no more legal danger than it is now.
“We’ve had this law for 40 years. We’re just updating what we've got,” Bernal said. “The idea that all of a sudden the sky is falling because we're adding a few words -- if anything, we've cleared it up to make it even stronger and more clear.”
As the city prepares for the vote, opponents of the ordinance are vowing to hold any council member who votes “yes” accountable for their decision.
As of Wednesday, thousands of signatures had been collected for the recall of Bernal and Mayor Julian Castro.
Gina Castaneda, one of several petition organizers said no matter how the city votes, someone needs to be held accountable for the divide that the ordinance has created.
“I think they’ve awoken a sleeping giant here in the city,” she said, referring to opponents of the ordinance. “They haven’t seen the pressure that San Antonians can put on them.”
On Thursday, protestors turned up the heat on Bernal, filing an ethics complaint with the San Antonio City Clerk’s Office.
“Citizens among you have gone today to file ethics complaints against Diego Bernal for his misuse of public office during his breakfast meeting that he held a few short weeks ago where he told a group of citizens to lie about this nondiscrimination ordinance, and to lie so you can get around this nondiscrimination ordinance,” said Weston Martinez.
Bernal called the allegations baseless.
“I have those “coffees with my constituents”. We've had about 40. Talk to any of the people in my district who were there and ask them what I said,” Bernal said. “The idea that this guy who supported this thing and is going through all this craziness would try to help people get around it, it's crazy.”