Mayor Castro addresses the Stonewall Democrats of San
Antonio in 2009 (Photo by Antonia Padilla)
Castro departure bittersweet for LGBT community
QSanAntonio, May 23, 2014
News that San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro will most likely head to Washington,
DC to take a cabinet post in President Barack Obama's administration has
left many in the LGBT community with mixed feelings about his departure.
On Saturday, May 17, San Antonio Express-News columnist Brian Chasnoff
broke the news that the FBI had begun the vetting process for Castro's
appointment. Later that day, the New York Times confirmed that Obama was
preparing to nominate Castro as his new Secretary of Housing and Urban
"Mayor Castro's departure to Washington is bittersweet," Chad
Reuman, governor for the local chapter of the Human Rights Campaign, told
QSanAntonio. "He's been a great leader for our city and outspoken
on the need for equal rights. Like many other leaders who stand up for
equality, Castro is on the right side history."
During his tenure, Castro supported the cause of equality by being the
first mayor to march in the Pride Parade, endorsing benefits for city
employees with same-sex partners, signing Freedom to Marry's pledge in
support marriage equality, and supporting efforts to get the nondiscrimination
Mayor Castro poses for photos before marching as Grand
Marshal of the 2009 Pride Parade.
2009: Equality on parade
Castro was elected mayor on May 9, 2009, receiving 56 percent of votes
in 9-person race. Earlier that year, on March 29, he sought and received
the endorsement of the Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio.
At the Stonewall endorsement meeting, Phillip Barcena, president of Gay
Pride San Antonio, invited all of the candidates to take part in the annual
Pride Parade. Castro said he would march.
After the election, Castro confirmed his participation and was named grand
marshal of the parade.
"I want to say, thanks to our new mayor," Barcena said at the
time. "I believe this truly puts San Antonio on a new path. This
is really a quality of life issue. His presence is a statement that everyone
matters in San Antonio. In our experience with the new mayor, we have
found that his word is real. We believe San Antonio will find that when
needs are brought to his attention he will be a careful listener and a
"I think it’s an important way to say that San Antonio is a
very inclusive city," Castro told WOAI Radio. "We don't just
tolerate diversity, but we appreciate diversity among our citizens."
Castro's decision angered local Christian extremists. Christian radio
talk show host Adam McManus told the Express-News that Castro had shamed
the city by participating in a "homosexual parade."
"The mayor realizes that in order to go far in the Democratic Party
in 2009, you have to kiss the ring of the abortionist industry and you
have to kiss the ring of the homosexual activist community. It's a sad
day.” McManus said.
In September 2009, the mayor addressed the Stonewall Democrats and told
the group the most controversial thing he did in his first 100 days was
to march in the Pride Parade.
Castro reiterated there were no
"second class" citizens in San Antonio. "San Antonio is
a cosmopolitan city, a twenty-first century city. We welcome everybody,"
August 31, 2011: Protestors stand outside City Council
chambers while Pastor Gerald Ripley denounces the domestic partner benefits
2011: Benefits for city employees
In August of 2011, city manager Sheryl Sculley unveiled a budget that
included extending domestic partnership benefits to city employees, including
Castro supported the measure. He said that by providing benefits to 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.
Once again, Christian protestors brought their caustic complaints before
the City Council.
In the hours leading up to the council's budget meeting on August 31,
Pastor Gerald Ripley, the man who spearheaded the campaign against offering
the benefits, posted on his web site, "Demonic forces are converging
over S.A. for the purpose of establishing immorality as a right at the
Gustavo Garcia Siller, Archbishop of San Antonio, issued a statement saying
he was concerned, "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."
The City Council vote on September 15 came after nearly three hours of
comments by local citizens. The count was 8 for and 3 against. Those against
the initiative nearly monopolized the Citizens to Be Heard portion of
the meeting with mostly religious and moral objections.
In endorsing the initiative from the council dais, Mayor 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."
Mayor Castro (standing center) with members of CAUSA
after passage of the nondiscrimination ordinance. (Photo by Alana Truitt)
2013: A bitter fight for the
Despite loud and vocal opposition from Christian extremists, the San Antonio
City Council on September 5, 2013 passed a nondiscrimination ordinance
that includes protections for LGBT citizens and veterans. The vote was
8 in favor and 3 against.
The newly-passed ordinance amends sections of the city code that cover
public accommodations, fair housing, city employment, city contracts and
appointments to city boards and commissions. The language in the code
now includes sexual orientation and gender identity, and veteran status
as protected classes.
"It has been a long, hard struggle, but we are happy that truth,
justice, fairness and equality have prevailed and that San Antonio has
joined the 180 other cities across the country who treat their LGBT residents
with dignity and respect," said Dan Graney, then-co-chair of CAUSA,
the coalition of LGBT groups and allies that promoted the nondiscrimination
Voting yes on the ordinance were Mayor Castro and council members Shirley
Gonzales, Rey Saldana, Diego Bernal, Ray Lopez, Ron Nirenberg, Cris Medina
and Rebecca Viagran.
As expected, no votes came from Elisa Chan and Carlton Soules. Ivy Taylor
who was previously undecided also voted no.
Anti-gay Christian groups formed a loud "vocal minority" in
opposition to the ordinance. Churches leading the opposition were busing
in protestors from surrounding cities to City Council meetings and accepting
funds from organizations outside San Antonio.
Five days after the passage of the ordinance, Castro paid a surprise visit
to a CAUSA meeting. He thanked the group and its coalition partners for
all the work they did to build community support for the ordinance and
he apologized for the length of time it took to pass the measure.
The mayor complimented those who spoke before Council at Citizens to be
Heard and noted the diversity in age, ethnicity, religious backgrounds,
sexual orientations and gender identities represented by those who spoke
in favor of the measure.
During the question-and-answer session, Castro made several observations:
- Those who vehemently opposed the ordinance did not realize how poorly
this played across the nation and how it left a negative impression of
- He acknowledged the need for education about LGBT people and the issues
that affect their lives and committed to enhancing LGBT education opportunities
for city staff and departments.
- He noted that the number of negative phone calls to his and other council
members' office had lowered considerably in the days following the passage
of the ordinance.
- He said party politics played an underlying role in the opposition to
the ordinance as evidenced by Attorney General Greg Abbott and Republican
candidates singling out San Antonio's nondiscrimination ordinance without
mentioning other Texas cities which have already adopted these measures.
- Although pleased that the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, the
Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Spurs Sports and Entertainment expressed
public support for the ordinance, he expressed disappointment that CEOs
of major companies in San Antonio that already have these protections
in place (like Clear Channel and Rackspace) did not come forward and make
public their support. The mayor surmised that because the debate became
so "hot" toward the end that perhaps business leaders did not
want to wade into that.
In an email, former City Councilwoman
Elena Guajardo, who is now co-chair of the Stonewall Democrats of San
Antonio, wrote, "The Stonewall Democrats congratulate Mayor Castro
on his pending cabinet appointment. We will always remember his work on
the nondiscrimination ordinance and his leadership in making San Antonio
a more equal place to live."
Graney echoed Guajardo's statement, saying that Castro "has been
by far San Antonio's most progressive mayor when it comes to moving the
agenda forward on LGBT equality, both nationally and locally. His able
and competent leadership will certainly be missed but if he is confirmed
by the Senate, we wish him every success as the new Secretary of Housing
and Urban Development."
President Obama and Mayor Castro on May 23 at the announcement
of his cabinet appointment.
VICTORY! S.A. City
Council passes nondiscrimination ordinance
QSanAntonio, September 5, 2013
Despite loud and vocal opposition from Christian extremists, the San Antonio
City Council on September 5 passed a nondiscrimination ordinance that
includes protections for LGBT citizens and veterans. The vote was eight
in favor and three against.
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.
Castro to be Grand Marshal of S.A. Gay Pride Parade
QSanAntonio.com, June 9, 2009
Julian Castro will make history on July 4 when he becomes the first Mayor
of San Antonio to ever appear in the Gay Pride Parade as Grand Marshal.
Organizers say they are hoping that Castro’s participation will
encourage others on the City Council to take part as well.