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Despite anti-gay hecklers, community activists speak out at Citizens to Be Heard
QSanAntonio.com, August 16, 2013

Supporters of the city's proposed nondiscrimination ordinance have been speaking out consistently during the City Council's Citizens to be Heard sessions, often having to sit through caustic presentations by anti-LGBT Christians who are leading the opposition.

At the August 14 session, retired Marine Sergeant Eric Alava was booed after he spoke. "Well I just left city council chambers and I feel like crying. I have never seen a city so divided and hateful toward each other," Alva posted on his Facebook page.

Despite this, advocates of the ordinance have continued to present their case week after week. Following is a selection of speeches given during the August 7 and August 14 Citizens to be Heard sessions.

Eric Alva
August 14, 2013

Good evening ladies and gentlemen and thank you for allowing me to speak tonight my name is Retired Marine Sergeant Eric Alva.

To those of you who don't know me, I am the first American that was injured in Operation Iraqi Freedom when I stepped on a land mine and losing my right leg.

With that said, to all you people holding signs, it is because of my sacrifice, that you have that right to hold those signs. I am a Veteran, I am Hispanic, I am disabled and I am a gay man, one who has a Purple Heart and one who has fought for the rights, freedoms and equal opportunities for the citizens of this country NOT just you selected few !!!

I am here tonight to express my support in asking the members of this council and vote for an all inclusive city wide ordinance that includes non discrimination for gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation and veteran's status.

There is NOT one person in this room that can not look me in the eye and say I have not earned my freedom because I have. But the sad truth is that if this ordinance does not pass, I can be denied from applying for a job, be fired from a job or even be thrown out out of a restaurant just for being gay. It doesn't matter that I am a wounded warrior or a Purple Heart recipient.

And to all you people who spread the word of God, shame on you. Because God was with me that day I laid bleeding in Iraq. He saved me.

Randy Bear
August 14, 2013

Today, I want to address some of the issues of opposition, sometimes in blunt and direct terms. As the nation moves to provide full equality for all citizens, your historic vote will be remembered in years to come.

I hope you will be on the right side of history.

Some of you have expressed concerns about protections regarding contracts, stating you don’t like the imposition it might put on businesses. If you don’t like those impositions, then shouldn’t you consider removing ALL the minority opportunities provided by SBEDA in city contracts?

Opposing restrictions for one class would seem hypocritical.

Regarding religious objections, I have to ask of which church? My own church, Madison Square Presbyterian, doesn’t have these objections. In fact, if you look at the church in general, it deals daily with many conflicting issues such as open vs. closed communion, the role of women in church leadership, and others.

Allowing church positions to directly intervene in public policy is a slippery slope, due to the lack of an earthly arbitrator.

With that in mind, when Texas seceded from the Union, it stated in the Declaration of Causes that slavery was “abundantly authorized and justified by the experience of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Creator, as recognized by all Christian nations.”

The imposition of a flawed religious viewpoint cost our nation a tremendous loss of life.

Finally, some have stated several times that these protections seem unjustified. Looking around the nation and here in Texas, I constantly see cases of discrimination, violence and sometimes murder of my LGBT brothers and sisters.

Do we really need an incident in our own city to justify that protection? Does it have to come to a Rainbow Lounge incident to change your mind?

Mayor Castro has said many times, when talking about these changes there are no second class citizens in our city. I hope all of you take a bold stand with him supporting that statement.

The nation awaits your boldness.

Tiffani Bishop
August 14, 2013

Thank you members of the Council for allowing me to speak here today. My name is Tiffani Bishop. I am a veteran of the United States Navy. I honorably served as Primary Flight Control Tower Supervisor and Aviation Fuels Crew Leader during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom on board the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. I am also an out and proud homosexual.

When I joined the Navy, I raised my right hand and swore to protect and defend the United States Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic and bear true faith and allegiance to the same. Although I no longer wear a uniform, it is that very oath that brought me here today.

I'd like to remind all of you that the United States Constitution guarantees equal access and equal protection under the law. I'd also like to remind all of you that the United States Constitution guarantees a distinct separation of Church and State. Which means no law may be passed nor denied on the basis of religious beliefs.

In the Navy, we had three core values that we believed in very deeply. Those values are Honor, Courage, and Commitment.

I would like to ask every member of the Council today - Where is your honor while you remain silent as members of your city suffer? Where is your courage to do what is right regardless of whether or not you'll keep your parking space at City Hall after elections? Where is your commitment to serve ALL of the people of San Antonio?

Show us you have honor. Show us you have courage. Show us you have commitment. Vote yes on the Nondiscrimination Ordinance. Thank you.

Alanna Truitt
August 7, 2013

Mayor Castro and Members of the Council,

Thank you for letting me speak tonight. My name is Alanna Truitt and I am a lifelong resident of District 7. I am proud to be standing here today as a straight ally of the LGBT community, a sister of one of its members, and a mother.

Without a non-discrimination ordinance, the city of San Antonio cannot expect its citizens to ever relinquish its discriminatory reigns. With this potential ordinance in place, ensuring protection of San Antonio’s beautifully diverse population, the city can finally begin its attempt to put a stop to discrimination—from the top (our local government) down.

As a mother of a young son who is entering a crucial stage of cognitive development, I want my child to embrace every person as equal. I cannot, however, expect him to adopt these ideals in an environment where not even the legal system recognizes over-arching equality.

The current system in place not only teaches members of the LGBT community that persecution for who they are is permissible, but also teaches all citizens that the aforementioned discrimination is okay. With this ordinance, there will be no uncertainty left—discrimination and hate is wrong—and I, for one, look forward to the day where the question of discrimination and prejudice is no longer.

As antiquated a notion it may be, history repeats itself. Horrific acts of verbal and physical prejudice have been enacted in the past against minority groups: acts that destroyed and forever-altered a staggering number of lives.

When a gay couple is forced to move to the back of a bus for holding hands as recent news has reported, parallels can’t help but be made. Such acts cannot stand or be ignored. We may not be walking into segregated buildings or witnessing those suffering in internment camps, but there is still the ever-present fear that our society will fall back into these extreme acts of hate because we have fostered an ill-conceived notion of what it means to be normal and natural for far too long.

My brother means the world to me and the thought of him being taunted, abused, or mistreated for his sexual orientation horrifies me. Hate doesn’t just affect those in this LGBT community. It affects the families, friends, and society as a whole. Council, I urge you to amend the existing city code to include protection for the LGBT community. Thank you.

David Plylar
August 7, 2013

My name is David Plylar. I am a resident of District 10.

A month ago when I read a draft of the proposed nondiscrimination ordinance I was strongly opposed to paragraph (b) of Section 2-552 dealing with appointed officials, boards and commissions. This paragraph, titled “Prior Discriminatory Acts,” had the attributes of an ex post facto law and it also would have violated the rights of the people under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Councilman Diego Bernal has indicated that this provision of the ordinance will not be in the final version of the ordinance and I thank the councilman for that.

I can now support the ordinance without reservation.

I’d like to make one further point.

Councilman Carlton Soules, my representative on the council, has indicated there is no empirical evidence demonstrating that we have a problem of discrimination in San Antonio.

Here is some empirical evidence: Two years ago, 27.272 percent of the members of this council voted against the entire city budget after failing to have a line item removed that would provide funding for domestic partner benefits to city employees.

The three council members casting the negative votes were willing to shut down the entire city government—to provide zero funds for city services, including fire and police protection—because they were adamant about discriminating against the groups this new ordinance seeks to protect.

There’s your empirical evidence, Councilman Soules, and you are part of the data.

Related Links

Passage of NDO will not solve transgender bathroom issues
QSanAntonio.com, August 16, 2013
A 1999 ruling made by former Mayor Phil Hardberger when he was Chief Justice of the 4th Court of Appeals will have an impact on determining whether transgender citizens can legally use a public restroom based on their gender identity even if the proposed nondiscrimination ordinance is passed by the City Council.

Scaremongering ignores Hardberger opinion
By Brian Chasnoff, San Antonio Express-News, August 15, 2013
Six years before Phil Hardberger became mayor, he wrote an opinion as chief justice of the Fourth Court of Appeals that should serve to cool at least one heated objection to the city's proposal to update its nondiscrimination ordinance. The proposal would add protections for sexual orientation and gender identity.

LGBT non-discrimination ordinance debated at Citizens Heard meeting
San Antonio Current, August 8, 2013
Allegations of government mind control and a step toward pedophilia marked the oftentimes, nonsensical testimony from anti-LGBT residents who came out to oppose a non-discrimination ordinance during a City Hall public testimony meeting.