The city council in San Antonio, Texas, voted on Thursday to extend its non-discrimination ordinance to cover members of the LGBT communities, amid continued objections by conservatives accusing the policy of violating their religious freedom.
The San Antonio Express News reported that the council voted 8-3 in favor of the expansion of city policy, which will immediately add gender identity and sexuality as protected categories.
"This ordinance fundamentally is about ensuring whether you're white or black, Christan or Jew, straight or gay, this city belongs to you," Mayor Julian Castro was quoted as saying. "This ordinance is about saying there are no second-class citizens in San Antonio."
Council member Elisa Chan, whose statements finding homosexuality "disgusting" and opposing same-sex couples' right to adopt were secretly recorded and released to the press in August 2013, voted against expanding the ordinance. The New Civil Rights Movement quoted her as saying, "We have shattered the trust of a community."
The vote was held after two months of hearings and statements for and against the measure, with a group of minority church leaders holding a public protest on August 28. On Thursday, the Liberty Institute, a Texas-based Christian non-profit law firm, released a statement accusing Castro of using the ordinance to boost his own profile within the Democratic Party and saying the ordinance "should alarm every American who values their religious freedom."
"The ordinance is a cloudy and confusing collection of poorly thought out and conflicting statements that could have been more clearly and cleanly handled by simply including a broad religious liberty exemption to protect the free speech and religious liberty rights of both individuals and organizations that have religious objections to the requirements mandated by the Ordinance," institute president Kelly Shackelford said in the statement.
[Image: "Hands Waving Gay Flags In Front Of A Big Red Heart" via Shutterstock]