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Commentary: The next mayor of San Antonio must support equality for all
By Dan Graney, QSanAntonio, June 17, 2014

I was recently quoted in the San Antonio Express-News as opposing the appointment of District 2 City Councilwoman Ivy Taylor as interim mayor after Mayor Castro is confirmed and sworn in as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. I just wanted to issue a statement that elaborates on why I think she does not deserve to be the mayor of this great city, not even for one minute.

As co-chairs of the Community Alliance for a United San Antonio (CAUSA), DeeDee Belmares and I spent months working in the trenches to organize community and Council support for the historic fully inclusive Non Discrimination Ordinance (NDO) that was finally adopted by Council on September 5, 2013.

We spent countless hours at meetings, press conferences, rallies and in Council Chambers and endured the verbal abuse of vile, hate-filled attacks from opponents of the NDO. So, while we and the other leaders and supporters of CAUSA rejoiced when the NDO passed, we also bear the scars of those stressful months leading up to its passage.

One of our strategies as the CAUSA coalition was to schedule meetings with individual Council members and their staffs to advocate for their support of the NDO. We often did this with a number of NDO-supportive constituents from each of these Council member's districts.

It was difficult to schedule such a meeting with Councilwoman Ivy Taylor, but she finally did agree to meet with David Ewell, the Executive Director of the San Antonio AIDS Foundation (SAAF), and me privately in her office at City Hall about three weeks before the vote on the NDO.

At that meeting, she told us that on the one hand she does not support discrimination of any kind, but on the other hand her religious beliefs raised more questions than answers about LGBT people in general. She was very gracious during the meeting and it ended amicably.

Taylor's religious beliefs won out as evidenced by her vote. I was in Chambers at that time and I felt heartbroken and hurt by her vote and the angry, arrogant tone she used when voicing her reasons for voting the way she did.

Since that day, Councilwoman Taylor has not reached out to the LGBT community or otherwise communicated any interest in getting to know us better or to express remorse for her misguided vote. This is somewhat surprising since she has been a very ardent supporter of SAAF, which is located in her district, and BEAT-AIDS.

I am not opposing Taylor's appointment because I am a “single issue” advocate. Like other tax-paying residents of San Antonio, I care about public safety, public transportation and other “quality of life” issues that affect our everyday lives.

However, I am an openly gay man and as such, the NDO is important to me and our LGBT community, because it speaks to the very core of who we are. How can we expect to be treated fairly and equally as others in this city if our existence is not even acknowledged and protected?

What made Taylor's “No” vote on the NDO particularly hard to swallow was just moments before she voted “Yes” on a separate vote to add “veteran's status” as a protected category in the NDO.

We did not know how Taylor was going to vote until the last minute and she clearly voted to discriminate against an entire class of San Antonio residents and visitors – LGBT people – while voting to support protections for veterans (many of whom are LGBT as well).

We need a mayor who will wear the mantle of outgoing Mayor Julian Castro and continue to passionately believe that “there are no second-class citizens in San Antonio”.

It is no solace to me and to my community that Taylor has pledged she would do nothing to dismantle the NDO if she is appointed mayor. If anything, the NDO is incomplete. It may be fully inclusive, but it is far from being comprehensive. We still need a process of some kind, whether a commission or a city staff member, for handling discrimination complaints that arise from public accommodations and city contractor settings.

We also need to add protections for ALL classes in citywide employment – which would include private employers of 15 or more employees doing business in the city. Such protections already exist for most classes under federal and state law and the cities of Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, and most recently, Houston, have citywide employment covered in their LGBT-inclusive Non Discrimination Ordinances.

In San Antonio, we don't even include race, color, religion, gender, disability or any of the other heretofore recognized categories in citywide employment. We need a mayor who will be open to expanding our NDO, not just upholding the half loaf of an NDO we presently have.

Finally, Taylor's vote against including LGBT protections in the NDO is out of step with most African-American political leaders, from President Obama to her own State Representative, Ruth Jones McClendon, who signed a letter strongly supporting the NDO. She is also out of step with prominent African-American civil rights organizations, like the NAACP, which are strong supporters of LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination laws and policies.

While it would be historic for the first African-American woman to become mayor of San Antonio, Ivy Taylor is not that person because she does not meet the test of being a leader who will fairly represent the interest of all San Antonians.

Therefore, I firmly believe that the person who is appointed interim mayor be someone who voted for and/or is supportive of the NDO and is open to expanding its reach and effectiveness. We need a mayor who will openly embrace and ensure that San Antonio is a city that treats all its residents and visitors with fairness, respect and equality.

LGBT activists balk at idea of Ivy Taylor as interim mayor
QSanAntonio, June 16, 2014
Political activists in the LGBT community say they are concerned by the news that City Councilwoman Ivy Taylor may be the frontrunner for the post of interim mayor after Mayor Julian Castro leaves San Antonio to take a position in President Obama's cabinet.

A Look To The Future, Not the Past
By Randy Bear, Bexar Left and Right, June 17, 2014
It seems that some within our city’s LGBT community don’t seem to be able to move past a vote taken almost a year ago with regards to the non-discrimination ordinance. One of the potential candidates for interim mayor, Councilwoman Ivy Taylor, is being rejected, not because of her work on council, but because of her vote on the ordinance, as if that one vote completely defined her council career.