When it comes to city hiring practices or contracts the council awards, District 1 Councilman Diego Bernal believes everyone should be included in protections against discrimination, which is why he’s suggesting an update to San Antonio’s anti-discrimination policies to include gender identity, sexual orientation, and veterans.
"The city already exists under a system of non-discrimination policies," Bernal said Tuesday at the council’s Governance Committee meeting, held in the main council chambers to accommodate the plethora of supporters and opponents to the proposal. "They include race, gender, national origin, religion and so forth. All this proposal does is attempt to add to that list."
The committee’s five council members, which included Mayor Julián Castro, talked out the issue with City Attorney Michael Bernard, who has been researching the policy update that would also include consolidating it into one place.
Currently the policy appears in many ordinances.
Bernard told the committee that San Antonio wouldn’t be blazing new territory because many other cities in Texas have updated ordinances to include more people in discrimination protections.
However, while committee members like Councilwoman Ivy Taylor, and Councilmen Cris Medina and David Medina, say San Antonio must not discriminate, they do want more time to talk through the controversial proposal.
"While we certainly want to create a community where we have laws that ensure that everyone is treated fairly and equally, we also can't fool ourselves into believing that we can dictate and legislate people's hearts and minds, because we can't do that," said Taylor.
But Castro may have set the ultimate tone on the policy.
"To say that you agree with this ordinance is to say that you do not believe that someone who is gay or lesbian ought to be discriminated against the same way that an African American or Hispanic or woman shouldn't be discriminated against," he said to thunderous applause in the council chambers.
David Medina argued for the matter to come back to the committee before heading to the council for a briefing, but Bernal and Castro pushed back, saying that the full council should hear the pros and cons, and that bringing it back to committee would delay the full council from knowing what’s happening.
Ultimately, Castro said he believes the issue will make its way to the full council and that he believes it will be passed.
In the end, the committee voted for the full council to hear the proposal, but only after the a draft is written and all members have a chance to study it before a B session, which is intended for briefing only.
"I believe that we cannot have second-class citizens in San Antonio," Castro said.