Sunday, September 8, 2013

Christians may be barred from office, city employment, or contracts under new San Antonio LGBT law

by Kirsten Andersen

SAN ANTONIO, TX, September 6, 2013 ( – The city of San Antonio has passed a sweeping new ordinance that not only adds homosexuals, transsexuals and cross-dressers to the list of groups protected under the city’s anti-discrimination law, but bars anyone who has “demonstrated a bias” against such people from holding public office or doing business with the city.

“No person shall be appointed to a position if the city council finds that such person has, prior to such proposed appointment, engaged in discrimination or demonstrated a bias, by word or deed, against any person, group or organization on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, age or disability,” says the law, which was passed by an 8-3 vote Thursday with the vocal support of Mayor Julian Castro, a Democrat.

The ordinance does not contain a religious exemption, meaning that people who are active members of a faith that teaches against homosexuality could be blocked from city employment or contracts on the grounds that they have “demonstrated a bias.”

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott criticized the ordinance in a letter to Castro’s office Wednesday, calling it ‘thought control’ and an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment, which guarantees the right to free speech and practice of religion.

“The obvious problem with this provision is that it allows government to impose thought and speech control over any city official or board or commission member who may hold deep religious beliefs that are counter to the ordinance,” Abbott wrote. He told the mayor to expect lawsuits if the measure was passed.

American Family Association president Tim Wildmon said the San Antonio ordinance is “yet another tactic to exclude Christians from the political process and silence them, not to mention the assault on religious liberties that this unconstitutional policy demonstrates.”

“This course of action is well on its way to thought control if people won't even be able to voice their faith-based beliefs about homosexuality in a respectful way,” said Wildmon. “This leaves Christians with nowhere to go and backs them into a corner, which is exactly what the homosexual lobby wants.”

Some opponents of the new law worry it will lead to persecution of the faithful not just inside City Hall, but in private businesses, as well.

“We’ve seen how that has played out in other parts of the country where people have been persecuted for disagreeing with a homosexual lifestyle,” said Jonathan Saenz, president of Texas Values, speaking before the vote. “People have been forced to photograph gay wedding ceremonies in states where they do not even recognize homosexual marriage. We’ve seen the real force of government be used against people of faith.”

Pastor Steve Branson of San Antonio's Village Parkway Baptist Church agreed, telling Houston’s KHOU, “It's a stifling of free speech. If you voice any opinion, no matter how many years back it's been, it can be used against you.”

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