SAN ANTONIO -

Opponents of the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance were unable to collect enough signatures to put the issue up for a vote.

The deadline to file the petition was 5 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, 40 days after the council voted 8-3 to add gender identity, sexual orientation, and veteran status to the policy’s protected categories.

“We simply ran out of time,” said Abundant Life Church Pastor Gerald Ripley. “If we lived in Houston, we would have had double the amount of signatures. If we lived in Dallas, we would have had more time, but we live in San Antonio.”

Ripley said the inability to collect the approximately 61,000 signatures -- 10 percent of eligible voters -- was not a sign that the measure is supported by a majority of residents.

“The city does not like this ordinance,” he said. “There’s an underlying disgust that the city council took that action and so we went forward with (the petition). We were concerned about freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, First Amendment rights.”

Supporters of the policy said the effort’s failure was another victory for equal rights.

“I don’t think you vote on people's rights,” said Lauryn Farris, of the Transgender Education Network of Texas. "Civil rights or equal rights, those are things that are guaranteed to us.”

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