A group of mostly black and Latino Christian leaders have led efforts this week to oppose San Antonio's proposed "non-discrimination" ordinance. The proposal to add "sexual orientation" and "gender identity or expression" would make illegal some actions based upon Christian convictions, they claim.
The proposed non-discrimination policy would include "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to a list of categories, including race, color, religion, national origin, sex, veteran status, age and disability, for which discrimination would be prohibited.
There is an exemption in the proposal for religious groups, but it only says that religious groups may limit hiring to co-religionists.
About 500 people showed up at a city council meeting to voice their opinions on the measure, according to local television station KVEO. Most of them were opposed to the measure and wore blue shirts to demonstrate their solidarity.
While supporters argue the disputed language of the ordinance is necessary to prevent discrimination against gays and lesbians, opponents claim it could prevent Christians from living according to their religious beliefs and censor their speech.
"Now, the attack of cultural elites against everyday common law-abiding citizens is being fought at the altar of political expediency. Whether the ordinance passes or fails, the rise of a peace loving people has been awakened. Righteousness and justice will stand," said Rev. Eliezer Bonilla, pastor of Abundant Life Church in San Antonio and a National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference Executive Board Member.
Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, claimed that the proposed ordinance would be used to harm those who believe that homosexuality is harmful and sinful.
"This ordinance is not about preventing discrimination," he said. "It is about promoting an intolerant agenda directed at Christians, people of faith, and those who believe that homosexuality is contrary to the natural order. This ordinance will punish people because of their views on human sexuality. Everyone must wake up and realize the agenda behind this ordinance before it is too late."
The Twitter account of one local pastor was shut down after he used the service to speak out against the ordinance. Staver argued that this incident illustrated the type of censorship that could occur under the ordinance.
"Even though the pastor was only making people aware of the upcoming vote," he said, "Twitter shut down his account. This is America, and this intolerant censorship does not represent the values of the American people. I am calling on all pastors to speak up and mobilize their congregations to speak up. This ordinance must be stopped."