Councilman Rey Saldana and Councilwoman Jennifer Ramos
on the dais as Eduardo Juarez of the Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio
speaks. Photos: QSanAntonio.
Budget vote ushers in DP benefits
for city employees
QSanAntonio.com, September 15, 2011
After much public input, the San Antonio City Council passed a new $2.2
billion budget on September 15 that includes domestic partnership benefits
for city employees. The vote was 8 for and 3 against.
District 9 Councilwoman Elisa Chan and Councilmen Carlton Soules of District
10 and David Medina of District 5 constituted the "no" votes.
The vote came after nearly three hours of comments by local citizens.
Those against the initiative nearly monopolized the Citizens to Be Heard
portion of the meeting with mostly religious and moral objections.
Some of the Christian protestors
carried signs. Many came with children.
The council chambers were filled with Christian protestors including some
with babies and school-age children. Some held signs that read "Vote
for Marriage (I do!). "
Sometimes the rhetoric got rough. Some speakers threatened political retribution
to council members who voted to keep the measure in the budget. Mike Knupke
of the San Antonio Family Association said the question of domestic partnership
benefits had "awakened the sleeping Christian giant."
Former Christian radio talk show host Adam McManus went to the podium
with his infant son and pregnant wife to say that he did not support giving
benefits to "the live-in lovers" of city employees gay or straight.
Pastor Gerald Ripley, the main organizer of the protests, displayed a
picture of his infant grandchild who has only two teeth, saying his grandson
had a better bite because the DP initiative was a toothless idea that
was fraught with potential for fraud.
One man, Joe Desega, said that he had been in jail 25 times
before he found religion. He said he once ministered to "ex-homosexuals"
who were dying from AIDS and who, at the time of their deaths, cried out
to God for forgiveness.
City Council gadfly and self-proclaimed
homophobe Jack Finger and in photo right with Edmundo Vargas of the right-wing
Catholic group The Defenders of the Magesterium.
While most of the Christian protestors spoke specifically about the DP
partner line item, others also protested funding for the San Pedro Playhouse
because of their production of "Corpus Christi," and against
allowing tax dollars to be used for contraception.
On the same morning as the vote, Archbishop of San Antonio Gustavo Garcia
Siller issued a statement:
"As the shepherd and archbishop of the Catholic Church in San
Antonio, I have observed with interest the public debate that is taking
place in our city regarding a recent proposal to extend benefits to domestic
partners of city employees.
The Catholic Church recognizes as a fundamental human right that all persons
have the opportunity to secure adequate health care. I am concerned, nonetheless,
by the manner in which the city is proposing to provide health care by
giving legal recognition to a new structure that may ultimately result
in the undermining of marriage and the weakening of the family unit that
is essential to the good of society. "
Dennis Coleman of Equality Texas stands with Eduardo
Juarez of the Stonewall Democrats as he speaks. A box with almost 3,000
signed cards supporting DP benfits was presented to the council.
Gay activists chose to feature only one main speaker, attorney
Eduardo Juarez, co-chair of the Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio, who
came to the podium accompanied by a over a dozen community members including
Dennis Coleman, executive director of Equality Texas.
The GLBT group presented the City Council with a large plexiglass boxed
filled with almost 3000 signed cards asking the mayor and council members
to support the DP initiative. Former City Councilwoman Elena Guajardo
held a large blow-up of one of the yellow cards.
After all the comments from citizens had been heard, Councilwoman Chan
made a motion to have the domestic partner initiative pulled out as an
item to be voted on separately. Each council member then offered their
perspective on the issue.
Most of those on the council who were in favor of the benefits said that
it was the fair and right thing to do for city employees. Councilman Rey
Saldana of District 4 said he would always side with equality.
Chan's main objections were financial. She feared that the cost estimates
would be more than anticipated and questioned the verification process
by which couples would qualify for the benefits. Councilman David Medina
cited economic factors as well community opposition as the basis for rejecting
In endorsing the initiative, Mayor Julian Castro cited the many corporations
and cities that offer similar benefits and said, "This is not a new
issue -- this should have be done some time ago."
Chan's breakout motion was voted down by a margin of 7 to 4 clearing the
way for the 8 to 3 vote that approved the final budget.
Just minutes after the vote, Equality Texas sent out an e-mail news blast
that summed up the day's results.
"Today's vote is an affirmation of the City Council's
belief that all San Antonians should be treated equally, with the dignity
and respect they deserve. There was opposition. And, there will likely
be negative backlash. As we move forward, let us remember that fairness
and justice will always be in the best interests of our diverse communities."
over partner benefits overshadows city budget OK
San Antonio Express-News, September 16, 2011
The City Council adopted a budget that keeps the property tax rate steady
and invests in Mayor Julián Castro's long-range plan, SA2020. But
council members Elisa Chan, Carlton Soules and David Medina dissented,
breaking a years-long trend of unanimous budget approvals, because the
budget included domestic-partner benefits.
Council Approves 2012 Budget
KSAT-TV, September 16, 2011
By an 8-3 vote, the San Antonio City Council approved a balanced budget
for fiscal year 2012 that includes benefits for domestic partners of city
employees. The controversial item proved to be a sticking point during
budget talks, and several people spoke in favor and against the benefits
proposal before the council's vote.
for domestic partners included in 2012 city budget
KENS-TV, September 16, 2011
The San Antonio city council approved a $2.2 billion budget that includes
benefits to domestic partners of city employees. It's a small slice of
the pie, yet council spent four hours discussing the issue at Thursday's
Antonio passes domestic partner benefits
San Antonio Current, September 16, 2011
Our circus of a budget season, marred with debate over everything from
sidewalks to sodomy, is finally over. With an 8-3 vote Thursday, the City
of San Antonio churned out a budget granting domestic partner benefits
to gay and straight city employees, capping countless the hours of intense,
fiery debate that roiled nearly every community budget hearing over the
newcomers recast debate over domestic partner benefits
By Scott Stroud, San Antonio Express-News, September 16, 2011
About halfway through Thursday's marathon throw-down on whether the city
of San Antonio should extend benefits to domestic partners, including
gays and lesbians, I lost track of all the statements I found offensive.
It wasn't until City Council members got their turn to speak that I realized
this wasn't about who was offended, or by whom.
matter of workplace fairness
By Richard Farias, San Antonio Express-News, September 12, 2011
Domestic partner benefits account for approximately 0.014 percent of the
city budget, yet they have drawn enough discussion to make one wonder:
What is the big deal? The answer: It is about workforce parity and economic
Mary Ann Parks, Executive Director of Rachel's Project
and Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller.
Commentary: The Catholic response
on DP benefits
By Sam Sanchez, QSanAntonio.com, September 10, 2011
In an August 30 article in the San Antonio Express-News about religious
groups opposing domestic partner benefits for city employees, a spokesman
for the Archdiocese of San Antonio said they were "reviewing the
policy before weighing in."
On Monday of this week the executive director of an archdiocesan charity
stepped into the fray with an opinion piece in the Express-News that harshly
criticizes the initiative. (See related link below.)
The editorial by Mary Ann Parks, titled "Same-sex partner benefits
betray civic, fiduciary trust," starts by saying, "City Manager
Sheryl Sculley calls herself an agent of change. That is not her job,
but she is using her budget to do it."
Parks goes on to list several reasons, some of which have already been
refuted in the press, as to why the domestic partner proposal is a bad
idea including that it's "an insult to 6,000 years of law codes,
prevailing social traditions and the religious beliefs and moral code
of most residents of San Antonio."
Parks runs Project
Rachel, a non-profit that offers post-abortion counseling and operates
under the auspices of the Archdiocese of San Antonio. Given that she is
already on his payroll, one can assume that Parks had Archbishop Gustavo
Garcia-Siller's blessing to speak out against domestic partnership benefits.
This is not the first time the new archbishop has deferred to a proxy
when dealing with gay issues.
In October of last year, Garcia-Siller let Auxiliary Bishop Oscar Cantu
do the dirty work of expelling Dignity S.A. from their weekly mass at
St. Ann's Catholic Church just days prior to his arrival in San Antonio
to assume his new post.
When the furor over the play "Corpus Christi" erupted this summer,
Bishop Cantu once again served as the Archdiocese's spokesman saying that
"Art must not only imitate life, it must elevate it. 'Corpus Christi'
is just vulgar."
For many in our community it was disheartening to read an opinion piece
so filled with obvious disdain for gay people. "It is one thing to
tolerate or countenance the practice of homosexuality; it is quite another
to give it tax support," wrote Parks.
"Traditional morality" may not be provincial as Parks writes
in her op-ed, but intolerance, homophobia and religious extremism are
factors that can dissuade people and companies from wanting to live and
do business in San Antonio.
Offering domestic partner benefits signals to prospective employees, gay
or straight, that San Antonio is a welcoming city and not a place where
"prevailing social traditions" make it OK to deny equal rights
to citizens who don't pass muster with the archbishop or the religious
partner benefits betray civic, fiduciary trust
By Mary Ann Parks, San Antonio Express-News, September 4, 2011
City Manager Sheryl Sculley calls herself an agent of social change. That
is not her job, but she is using the budget to do it. Her budget proposes
insurance benefits for same-sex domestic partners. The plan is bad on
Religious extremists preach against
DP benefits at City Council meeting
QSanAntonio, September 1, 2011
In the hours leading up to the City Council's budget meeting on August
31, Pastor Gerald Ripley, the man who's spearheading the campaign against
domestic partnership benefits for city employees, posted on his web site
that "Demonic forces are converging over S.A. for the purpose of
establishing immorality as a right at the government level."
The meeting, which was held in City Council Chambers, was convened expressly
to discuss items from the city budget which awaits a Council vote on September
Even though a few of the citizens who spoke addressed other topics, by
and large the majority of those who came to the podium were there to discuss
domestic partner benefits.
While Pastor Ripley's rhetoric did not reach the same level when he actually
addressed the Council, some of his followers took a cue from his internet
One speaker said that that the "evil" of homosexuality was "eating
us up." Another, a woman holding a sign advocating heterosexual marriage,
said that San Antonio would be under the "dark cloud of Satan"
if domestic partnerships were granted.
Another man said that he used to work at a psychiatric hospital where
there was a ward just for homosexuals and that giving these people DP
benefits was immoral. One speaker admonished the City Council not to do
the "politically correct thing but the morally correct thing."
Speaking for DP benefits: Richard
Farias, Randy Bear, Chris Forbrich, Lauryn Farris.
Activists from the GLBT community, the majority of whom got to speak early
in the meeting, stayed on message. That message was that offering these
benefits made the city more competitive in hiring and retaining of top
talent, and that no employee should be treated like a second-class citizen.
Speaking for DP benefits: Executive
Director of Equality Texas Dennis Coleman, John Dean Domingue, Julia De
Grace, David Plylar.
One at time, each of the GLBT speakers made their case in addressing and
debunking their foes' other objections: Cost (less than one percent of
the total budget); abuse of the program (two forms documentation will
be required); and extending domestic partnership benefits was not an endorsement
of gay marriage as some of the religious extremists have suggested.
"Finally, offering these benefits is the right thing to do for the
hundreds of city employees who serve us daily," activist Randy Bear
told the Council. "For those city employees who could benefit by
this, it’s the right thing to do to be able to look them in the
eye and tell them we value them as much as their fellow employees."
GLBT activist Dee Villarubia with
City Manager Sheryl Sculley. Rabbi Barry H.D. Block from Temple Beth-El.
One religious leader who spoke in favor of granting the benefits was Rabbi
Barry H.D. Block from Temple Beth-El who came armed with a letter signed
by over 30 religious leaders.
"All of the undersigned are deeply committed to the sanctity of marriage.
We are equally aware that not all members of our society have equal access
to state-sanctioned marriage. Like the sanctity of marriage, equal rights
and equal opportunity for all human beings and all loving couples are
values we all hold dear," read the text of the letter.
Protestors stood outside City Council chambers while
Pastor Gerald Ripley denounced the DP benefits proposal.
Pastor Ripley, who admonished the QSanAntonio reporter for
trying to take his photograph, came to the podium and began by saying,
"It's been implied that two percent of our citizens are treated like
second class citizens. When homosexuals go to the Spurs' game they can
sit on any seat on the bus. They can drink from the same water fountains.
They can go into any restaurant or any theater. They can buy a house in
any neighborhood. Therefore, I say to you, there are no second class citizens
in our great city."
Ripley went on to say using the term "second class citizens"
to curry political capital was unfortunate and beneath the dignity of
those making the case. He also made the unsubstantiated claim that 70
percent of voters objected to offering the benefits.
What followed in Ripley's address came almost word-for-word from a fact
sheet with 14 talking points that had been posted
on his web site in the days leading up to the budget meetings.
Two controversial characters followed Pastor Ripley in speaking out to
the City Council against DP benefits.
Former Christian radio talk show
host Adam McManus (in dark suit) speaks with a fellow protestor. Pastor
and Mrs. Charles Flowers both took the podium in opposition to the DP
The first was former talk show host Adam McManus who was fired for budgetary
reasons last year from KSLR-AM, a local Christian radio station. During
his time on-air, McManus encouraged his listeners to speak out in 2007
against Police Chief William McManus
and in 2009 against Mayor Julian Castro
because they served as Grand Marshal for the Gay Pride Parade. In 2006,
McManus tried to start a boycott of H-E-B because
the grocery chain had contributed $300 to PrideFest.
Also present was Pastor Charles Flowers of the Love Demonstrated Ministries
who was arrested in 2007 for dragging a girl behind a van after she failed
to keep up during a running exercise at his Christian boot camp near Corpus
Christi. In 2006, Love Demonstrated Ministries reported private and government
contributions totaling $314,673 to operate the boot camp, with nearly
89 percent of the costs, $278,549, going for salaries.
A partial screen capture of Pastor Ripley's web site
as it appeared on August 31, 2011
to ask couples to prove commitment
San Antonio Express-News, August 31, 2011
The city is poised to begin offering benefits to same-sex domestic partners
of employees, but before receiving the coverage, the couples will have
to prove they're in committed relationships, according to a memo that
City Manager Sheryl Sculley gave to council members Tuesday. The memo
outlines a policy that would require that couples — both same-sex
and opposite-sex domestic partnerships — swear that they're in a
“committed relationship” on a city affidavit.
sex partner benefits roil SA, but most Texas cities offer them
Q1019.com, August 31, 2011
As activists prepare to shout down a proposal to expand the city budget
to provide insurance and other city benefits for the same-sex partners
of San Antonio city employees, as well as employees of San Antonio owned
utilities CPS Energy and the San Antonio Water System, it turns out that
San Antonio is well behind the curve. Several other large Texas cities
have already brought same sex partners into the mix.
Activists seek community's help with
DP benefits push
QSanAntonio.com, August 27, 2011
GLBT activists are fanning out across the city in a campaign to rouse
the community into helping support the push for domestic partnership benefits
for city employees, including same-sex couples.
The initiative, which is included in the city budget, will have to be
approved by the City Council which means that Council members have to
be lobbied and contacted to show there is solid support.
Reports from district budget meetings being held across the city show
that an organized effort to derail the initiative is being mounted by
local conservatives, mostly for religious reasons.
At the District 7 budget meeting on August 24, former City Councilwoman
Elena Guajardo reports that there were five people who spoke against the
benefits including one man identified as Rev. Flowers who said that a
vote for domestic partnership benefits was a vote against marriage.
In District 9, which held its meeting on August 25, the five people spoke
against the initiative received applause, the five who spoke for it did
At the meeting, District 9 Councilwoman Elisa Chan received a loud round
of applause when she stated, "We need to make sure this does not
promote abuse. I believe marriage is between a man and a woman but that
is my opinion and others have their opinions. I believe in equality and
nondiscrimination, but I do have questions about the benefits that are
In conservative District 10, staffers for Councilman Carlton Soules are
replying to emails he's received on the issue by writing back, "At
this time, he has not made a decision on supporting this proposal and
will not be able to until he has seen the details and the financials of
In District 1, the budget meeting saw only two people speak against domestic
partnership benefits and several who spoke in favor. In a reversal from
District 9, those who spoke in favor of the initiative were applauded.
In a report sent to QSanAntonio by activist and blogger Randy Bear, he
writes that perennial gadfly and self-professed homophobe Jack Finger
said at the District 1 meeting that a vote for domestic partnerships was
a vote for people "shacking up."
"Attorney Bill Goodman and activist Gilbert Casillas both gave great
responses," writes Bear. "Bill told Finger 'Sorry Mr. Finger,
but it’s not a shack, it’s a home' followed by applause. Bill
then gave a personal testimony about his late partner and how they worked
to build a home. Gilbert reminded Finger that Texas supports common law
marriages which are what Finger calls 'shacking up.' So if Finger disapproves
he should take that up with Governor Perry.' More applause. "
Activists say that the only way to insure that the passage of domestic
partnership benefits is by members of the GLBT community contacting their
individual City Council members.
One way they hope to do this is with postcards that ask the Mayor and
City Council members to vote yes on domestic partnerships. Activists hope
to have the community fill out as many cards as possible so that they
can be presented at the City Council meeting prior to the budget vote
on September 15.
Distribution of the cards will begin this weekend with activists hitting
the Main Avenue strip where they hope to get people at the bars and clubs
to take a moment to fill them out. (Sample card shown above.)
Sparky's Pub will become a distribution point for picking up the cards
or dropping them off.
Besides the bars and clubs, activists are asking anyone who's attending
an event or meeting, gay or straight, to take cards with them so that
friends and family can fill them out.
Anyone needing 50 or more cards can contact Elena Guajardo at 210-681-6798
to arrange for a pickup.
Guajardo is also seeking donations to help defray the cost of printing
the cards. She said anyone who'd like to contribute can send a check to:
DP Benefits, Stonewall Democrats, P.O. Box 12814, San Antonio, Texas,
78212. Checks should be made out to the Stonewall Democrats with "DP
benefits" in the memo line.
Guajardo says that if individuals cannot get hold of a card they should
contact their City Council representative by phone or email and ask them
to support domestic partnership benefits for city employees. Or you can
send an email to Guajardo at firstname.lastname@example.org with
your name and address and a card can be filled out for you.
"This is an opportunity our community is being given by City Manager
Sculley," says Guajardo. "It would be a shame if we did not
do everything possible to make this initiative a reality."
here for contact information for the Mayor and City Council.
proposes to extend benefits for domestic partners
WOAI-TV, August 25, 2011
City manager Sheryl Sculley proposed benefits for city workers should
include domestic partners, regardless of their sexual orientation. It
comes with a price tag of about $300,000 to $400,000. J. Lynn Armstrong,
who has been in a domestic partnership for more than 20 years, says the
move is long overdue.
at budget hearing
TV4SA, August 26, 2011
City Council gadfly and self-professed homophobe Jack Finger speaks at
the 2011 City of San Antonio budget hearings on same-sex domestic partner
benefits and the play "Corpus Christi" at the San Pedro Playhouse.
This clip was for San Antonio Public Access TV, TV4SA PATV.
with (and without) benefits in SA
PlazaDeArmasTX.com, August 25, 2011
As budget hearings go, the first hour of Monday’s gathering on the
East Side was pretty upbeat, even jovial at times. Then Gerald Ripley
walked up to the microphone. Ripley, the longtime pastor of the evangelical
Abundant Life Church, brought a touch of gloom to the room by denouncing
Sculley’s proposed initiative to offer benefits to domestic partners
of municipal employees. Ripley said he was speaking on behalf of a group
of 85 local pastors who all adamantly oppose the plan.
DP benefits proposed in city budget
not a sure thing
QSanAntonio.com, August 18, 2011
Last week City Manager Sheryl Sculley unveiled a new budget that included
extending domestic partnership benefits to City of San Antonio, CPS and
San Antonio Water System employees, including same-sex couples.
While this is a historic first for the city's GLBT community, activists
warn that the question of domestic partner benefits is far from a done
deal. Even though the initiative is supported by Mayor Julian Castro,
it could get derailed in district budget meetings being held across the
city. At these meetings citizens can speak out against specific budget
Last Friday, District 10 City Councilman Carlton Soules, a conservative
Northside politician, told the San Antonio Express News, "I need
to know what it means from a financial perspective, what guidelines they're
following. What's the definition of a domestic partner?” he said.
“At this point, with me personally, I don't see that it's going
to be a major issue in our district. But obviously, this is why we have
public hearings and our meetings."
On the following Monday at the District 10 budget meeting, six people
spoke out against domestic partner benefits even though City Manager Sheryl
Sculley, who was at the meeting, gave several good reasons why the city
should offer them. How those six dissenting voices will affect Councilman
Soules' vote on the initiative is hard to gauge.
At the District 5 meeting on Thursday, August 18, a local
pastor spoke out and said he was organizing other religious leaders to
oppose the domestic partner initiative. He urged Councilman David Medina
to vote no. "We were not counting on Medina's support, " says
Elena Guajardo, co-chair of the Stonewall Democrats. "However, this
only confirms that we must act and not be silent."
One source at City Hall says the Mayor and City Council members have all
received negative phone calls regarding domestic partnership benefits.
That is why GLBT activists are asking the community to attend the budget
meetings in their respective districts. Some of these meetings have already
taken place, others continue through August 29.
At one gathering of activists attended by QSanAntonio participants were
told that monitoring any opposition voiced at the district meetings was
crucial in order to determine what parts of the city were most resistant
to the initiative and which council members need to be lobbied prior to
the budget vote.
There are two primary talking points that the Mayor and activists are
giving in support of offering the benefits:
1) By providing benefits for domestic partners, regardless of sexual orientation,
the City of San Antonio remains competitive in hiring and retaining valuable
human resource talent and establishes it as a world-class employer.
2) Providing benefits, regardless of sexual orientation, demonstrates
that the City of San Antonio does not regard any individual as a second-class
citizen and provides the same benefits for all employees.
Speaking at the meeting of the Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio on August
15, District 1 City Councilman Diego Bernal urged the community to contact
their city council members to express support for the initiative and to
attend the district meetings.
Below is a listing of upcoming district budget meetings.
Thursday, August 18, District 5, Senior Center, 2701 S. Presa St.
Monday, August 22, District 2, S.J. Davis Middle School, 4702 E. Houston
Monday, August 22, District 6, Alice Trevino Lopez Senior Center, 8353
Tuesday, August 23, District 8, University Methodist Church, 5084 DeZavala
Wed., August 24, District 7, St. Mary's University -University Center,
1 Camino Santa Maria
Thursday, August 25, District 1, TriPoint YMCA, 3233 N. St. Mary's St.
Thursday, August 25, District 9, Parman Library, 20735 Wilderness Oak
Monday, August 29, District 4, Miller's Pond Gyn, 6175 Old Pearsall Rd.
here for contact information for the Mayor and City Council.