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Using lies, NDO opponents seek referendum signatures at Rialto cinema
QSanAntonio, October 7, 2013

In their effort to force a referendum to overturn the city's newly enacted nondiscrimination ordinance, opponents are now targeting movie theaters as places to seek signatures for their petitions often using outright lies to persuade people to sign.

In a Facebook post on October 3, Rev. Jeanette Vela says she was at the Santikos Rialto cinema for a screening of the movie, "Unstoppable," when before the film two women went to the front of the auditorium to ask the audience if they knew about the nondiscrimination ordinance.

In her post, Velas writes that the women said that under the new ordinance pastors were being prosecuted for not performing same-sex marriage ceremonies and that men dressed as women were being allowed in women's restrooms permitting them to sexually abuse children. The women said a bakery in San Antonio was shut down for refusing to bake a wedding cake for a same sex ceremony.

All of the women's claims are false.

The changes made on September 5 to the sections of the city code cover public accommodations, fair housing, city employment, city contracts and appointments to city boards and commissions. The language in the code was changed to include sexual orientation, gender identity and veteran status as protected classes.

The ordinance does not address or cover anything to do with same-sex marriage.

After they spoke, the women at the Rialto passed around a petition seeking a referendum to overturn the ordinance.

Vela says she was outraged. "If you are going to fight for a cause, state the facts correctly," she wrote on Facebook. "How can you be at a Christian movie and have such judgement? God is about love, peace and light."

On the day after the incident at the Rialto, QSanAntonio contacted Chris Prichard, director of marketing for Santikos, to ask if the theater had given permission for these women to circulate the petition.

Prichard told QSanAntonio that Santikos maintains a neutral position on all political issues. He said the women did not have permission to solicit petition signatures. Prichard said Santikos had gotten several phone calls about the incident. Later that day, the company issued a public statement:

"On October 3, 2013 a petition was circulated within one of our theatres without our knowledge or any prior consent from any member of the Santikos organization. Santikos Theatres has a strict policy that prohibits any group or organization from soliciting to our guests for any purpose. This incident involved a paying customer who attended a regularly scheduled show time and acted on behalf of their organization’s own interests. Santikos Theatres would like to apologize for any confusion this petition may have caused to any member of the community."

QSanAntonio learned that anti-gay Christians were also seeking petition signatures at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema at Westlakes during a screening of the film "Linsanity."

A post on Facebook by a person who attended the film says, "This guy came up to us, said 'God bless you. Mind if I sit down and talk to you about something?' I told him that actually I did mind and thought this was neither the time nor the place for that when we're here trying to watch a movie with our families."

Collecting signatures for the recall of Mayor Castro and Councilman Bernal
(Photo: facebook.com/recallcastrosa

A couple of weeks ago, people from this same group were collecting signatures in front of the Longhorn Steakhouse near North Star Mall. Greg Collins, the manager of the restaurant, asked them to leave but they refused. He told Dee Villarubia, a member of CAUSA, that he was upset the group used the name of the business in their announcements to the public and said he was going to call them to voice his displeasure.

A coalition of about 30 anti-gay churches under the leadership of Pastor Charles Flowers and Pastor Gerald Ripley, two of the ordinance's most vocal opponents, are seeking to overturn the new law. In order to force a referendum on the issue, they need to collect 78,000 signatures before October 15, a feat which many political observers say is nearly impossible.

A separate set of petitions are also being circulated by the Bexar County Conservative Coalition and the San Antonio Tea Party Patriots seeking to recall City Councilman Diego Bernal and Mayor Julian Castro for having supported the ordinance.

Are anti-gay churches violating tax law with recall efforts?
QSanAntonio, September 27, 2013
Last week, Pastor Charles Flowers and his wife Janice hosted an invitation-only meeting of over 30 pastors at their church, the Faith Outreach Center International. At that gathering, there was a discussion about recalling City Councilman Diego Bernal and Mayor Julian Castro, and support was voiced for a referendum to overturn the city's new nondiscrimination ordinance.

Acrimony persists after passage of NDO
QSanAntonio, September 20, 2013
In the two weeks since the passage of the city's nondiscrimination ordinance that added protections for LGBT citizens, there is still much resentment and acrimony among opponents who are intent on exacting revenge from Mayor Julian Castro and the city council members who voted for the measure.