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Commentary: Reflections on Ivy Taylor's election as interim mayor
By Dan Graney, QSanAntonio, July 24, 2014

At 8:15 am on July 22, 2014, I walked into City Council Chambers hopeful that the City Council would make the right decision by electing an interim mayor who would be representative of ALL the people of San Antonio, including the LGBT community. By noon that day, I walked out in anger and disbelief that the majority of Council members elected the one colleague who voted against including LGBT protections in the Non-Discrimination Ordinance last year – Ivy Taylor.

I felt a sense of deep betrayal by Council members who were champions and supporters of the NDO last year but who voted for Ivy Taylor in the first round of voting. I sensed that the contest would eventually boil down to the two senior members of Council, Taylor and Ray Lopez, but I never imagined that Taylor would emerge the victor.

After walking out of Council chambers, I asked myself, “what happened?” Sure, it is wonderful to make history by electing the first African-American woman as mayor of San Antonio, but why THIS African-American woman who is no Sheila Jackson Lee or Ruth Jones McClendon when it comes to standing on the right side of history on LGBT equality?

What happened to cause one of our strongest allies on Council to cast his vote for Taylor in the first round when there were three other candidates who voted for the NDO? Did something come up during the horse-trading that went on behind closed doors to cause this Council member and other NDO supporters to decide to throw the LGBT community under the bus and cast their lot with Taylor?

Sure, Taylor did commit to a group of CAUSA members that she would uphold the NDO, attempt to put procedures in place to implement it and appoint a member of our community to be her LGBT liaison if she were elected mayor. However, that is of little consolation to me, knowing that down deep inside, she would have no problem with an LGBT person – even if it is an African-American LGBT person or same-sex couple -- being denied service at the lunch counter because somehow this might infringe on the restaurant owner's religious beliefs.

Taylor has had a rocky relationship with the LGBT community for years, beginning in 2009 when she first ran for mayor. At that time, she sought the endorsement of Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio and stated that she would not list the endorsement on her website or campaign literature because we were “divisive” to her constituents. Needless to say, she did not get the endorsement. Nor was she endorsed in 2011 and 2013 when she ran for re-election, although in 2013 she did change her tune by stating that she would list the Stonewall endorsement on her website.

In her candidate questionnaire, which she signed on March 15, 2013, she also answered an unequivocal “yes” to whether she would vote in favor of amending the city's non-discrimination ordinances to include sexual orientation and gender identity/expression in city employment, housing, public accommodations, city contracts and appointments to boards and commissions. Based on that, I voted to endorse her (even though I was outvoted at the Stonewall meeting) and contributed money to her campaign. Less than 6 months later, however, she broke that promise by voting “no” to those very protections in the NDO.

Citing personal and religious reasons for voting against including LGBT protections in the NDO, Taylor punctuated her remarks with angry and vindictive comments directed toward our community while merely stating that she “cringed” at some of the hateful remarks uttered by NDO opponents. That really stung me and others who had reached out to her in private, respectful conversations prior to her vote.

After her “no” vote on the NDO, Taylor not once reached out to the LGBT community to meet with or learn from them. I have never heard her say the words “LGBT”, “gay”, “lesbian” or “transgender.” She has always referred to us as “them” or “those people.” She has been supportive of HIV/AIDS services organizations like the San Antonio AIDS Foundation (located in her district) and BEAT-AIDS, Inc., but not once has she attended any LGBT function such as the HRC Gala or Equality Texas Brunch or marched in San Antonio's annual Gay Pride Parade.

Dan Graney addresses the City Council on July 22. (Photo: TVSA)

When the documentary film, “The New Black,” premiered last month at the Carver Library and which depicted the relationship between the African-American and LGBT communities, Precinct 4 County Commissioner candidate Tommy Calvert was in attendance, but Taylor was not. Too bad, because she could have learned something.

There are those both within and outside our community who are saying, “get over it” and “she will only be in office for 10 months” and “she promised to uphold the NDO and even strengthen its implementation, so what harm can she possibly do?” While there may be truth to these admonitions (she IS our interim mayor, after all, so I do need to move on and look toward the future), there is still something in me that is crying out for more from Ivy Taylor.

Ideally, I would like to see her come before us and state that she has “evolved” and apologize to us for her “no” vote on the NDO. I would reach out to her, hug her and personally reconcile with her. That is likely not going to happen, so what is the next best option?

I would then like to see her follow through on her commitment and appoint an LGBT person from our community to be her liaison to our community. I think that person should be African-American, since that is still one of the most “invisible” components of our community here in San Antonio. Whoever it is, it should be someone who has the respect and trust of the LGBT community. Additionally, she should hire the best qualified people for her staff, but it would be nice if at least one of them is LGBT.  

I would also like to see her meet with members of our community, hear their stories and have an open and candid conversation about her religious beliefs and how those render the LGBT component of who I am as a human being less worthy of protection in private business settings than the fact that I am also white, male, 65 years of age and living with a disability (HIV/AIDS).

I would also like to see her attend the HRC Gala or some other LGBT event to show her interest and concern about human rights and the LGBT community. Finally, I would like to see her become proactive in putting “teeth” into the NDO by implementing procedures with the staffing necessary to handle complaints of discrimination that arise under the NDO.

Those are some of the things I would like to see Ivy Taylor do to show she really cares about representing ALL the people of San Antonio, now that she is mayor. I am ready to move on and I trust she is, too. I can only hope that we can both evolve together in the process.

City Council selects Ivy Taylor as interim mayor
QSanAntonio, July 22, 2014
The San Antonio City Council selected Councilwoman Ivy Taylor as the interim mayor of San Antonio.

Opinion: The LGBT community should reconsider Ivy Taylor
By Marsha Warren, QSanAntonio, July 21, 2014
In the next few days, the San Antonio City Council will elect an interim mayor. From the body of council, they will select from amongst themselves the person who would become the one person who will represent all people of San Antonio, regardless of their beliefs, ethnicity, cultural background, or sexual orientation and gender identity. The person will serve as interim until the next election in May 2015.I

It's thumbs down for Ivy Taylor from CAUSA
QSanAntonio, July 19, 2014
In a statement issued on Friday, July 18 CAUSA (Community Alliance for a United San Antonio) did not endorse any of the four city council members who are seeking the position of interim mayor. However, one sentence in the statement made clear who they did not want to get the job.

CAUSA issues statement on selection of interim mayor
QSanAntonio, July 18, 2014
CAUSA (Community Alliance for a United San Antonio) issued a statement on Friday, July 18 regarding the selection of the interim mayor. Here is the text of that statement.

LGBT opposition to Ivy Taylor persists as interim mayor selection nears
QSanAntonio, July 11, 2014
In just a few days, the City Council will begin the process of selecting the interim mayor. Within the LGBT community, there appears to be a consensus as to who should get the post: Anyone but Ivy Taylor.

Don’t deny Ivy Taylor’s chance to ‘evolve’
By Frederick Williams, San Antonio Current, July 2, 2014
Some residents from the LBGT community have publicly made it known that they oppose Ivy Taylor’s consideration by the council to serve as mayor in the interim before May’s general election.

In defense of Ivy Taylor
By Charles Kuffner, OffTheKuff.com, July 6, 2014
Ivy Taylor is a San Antonio City Council member. She’s currently considered a frontrunner to succeed outgoing Mayor Julian Castro once he leaves to become Housing Secretary. Her elevation to Mayor would be historic, as she would be the first African-American Mayor of San Antonio, but it has also generated some controversy because in 2013 she voted against expanding the city’s non-discrimination ordinance.

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.

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.