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LULAC leader defends Sanchez Ice House
QSanAntonio, July 25, 2014

Henry 'El Zapatista' Rodriguez, president of LULAC Concilio Zapatista 4383 says that Sanchez Ice House did not violate the city's nondiscrimination ordinance when it ejected a lesbian couple for kissing.

On June 7, Marciela Fonseca and her girlfriend Gina Ramirez say they were asked to the leave the ice house because they had kissed on the dance floor. (See related story link below.)

The security guard who escorted the women out told them Alice Gutierrez, the owner's wife, said to tell them, "This is a family establishment and we don't let lesbians kiss." The couple recently filed a complaint against the ice house under the city's nondiscrimination ordinance.

Rodriguez, who was named 2012 LULAC Texas Man of the Year, told Texas Public Radio that his chapter supported the NDO but he doesn't buy the couple's version of events.

"We talked to some people there that were there and they have a different story," he told TPR. "If it did happen, and I really cannot believe that it did, but we'll let it play out in court. By talking to witnesses, the story doesn't pan out the way that it was presented in the media."

Rodriguez is a long-time friend of ice house owner Val Gutierrez and his wife. He grew up in the neighborhood is now a political activist for a variety of issues.

On February 18, Rodriguez spoke at a protest rally organized by a coalition of streetcar opponents that included his LULAC chapter, local tea partiers and the Homeowner-Taxpayer Association of Bexar County.

A 2012 article in the San Antonio Current recalls that during the Henry Cisneros administration, Sanchez Ice House was almost demolished as part of an urban renewal plan. Federal money was being used to convert the blighted inner-city neighborhood into an light industrial area. Many businesses, including the ice house, faced the wrecking ball.

The Current reported that with the help of COPS (Community Organized for Public Service), Rodriguez, in his role as a LULAC leader, "rallied to protect the interests of the neighborhood citizens, and soon thereafter, neighboring bars as well." The story goes that Sanchez Ice House survived thanks to Rodriguez's efforts.

Henry 'El Zapatista' Rodriguez spoke at a February 18 protest rally organized by a coalition of streetcar opponents. (Video capture: KSAT-TV)

On Thursday night, the Concilio Zapatista chapter held a rally in support of Val and Alice and their ice house. Rodriguez and the owner's position is that Sanchez Ice House is a family hangout and the couple were ejected not because they are lesbian but because of the public display of affection -- they would have been thrown out even if they had been straight they say.

Before the couple had legal representation, they sought help from the Orgullo de San Antonio LULAC Council 22198 which is an LGBT chapter. Members of Orgullo stood outside Sanchez Ice House with Fonseca and Ramirez on Thursday evening to help bring attention to the couple's story to news reporters who were there to cover the rally.

The women's complaint is the second filed under the nondiscrimination ordinance. The first was filed last January by Matthew Hileman, a transgender man who says he was unfairly dismissed from a job at AT&T after he reported transphobic harassment by fellow employees. Attorney Justin Nichols is representing both cases.

In terms of what happened at the ice house, Nichols is clear about what his clients want.

"Under the nondiscrimination ordinance it makes it a crime to discriminate on the basis if sexual orientation. So one of the things we're asking the city to do is prosecute the Sanchez Ice House and that would be done in municipal court and the fine is up to five hundred dollars," he told KENS-5.

Lesbian couple say they were escorted out of bar because they kissed
QSanAntonio, July 3, 2014
A lesban couple in San Antonio say they were asked to leave an ice house in Southtown last month because they had kissed.