San Antonio Passes Far-Reaching Antidiscrimination Measure

Cal Jillson, political scientist at SMU's Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, talks about the a new nondiscrimination ordinance recently passed in San Antonio.

By Manny Fernandez

HOUSTON — Nearly 200 cities across the country have enacted ordinances in recent years that prohibit bias by municipal employees or in city contracts over someone’s race, sex, age, religion or sexual orientation. Houston, Austin, Dallas and Fort Worth are a few of the Texas cities that adopted such measures.

But in San Antonio, a nondiscrimination ordinance that includes protections for sexual orientation and gender identity turned into a divisive political battle this summer, the likes of which this liberal-leaning city of 1.4 million has rarely seen in recent decades.

The City Council passed the measure, 8 to 3, on Thursday, capping weeks of heated debate that exposed racial, religious and gay-and-straight divisions and drew the scorn of Republican leaders and candidates around the state who are just starting to position themselves for next spring’s primary elections....

“It is Republican statewide candidates signaling their base that they are true and trustworthy conservatives,” said Calvin Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. “When you’re running for statewide office, you don’t control what the San Antonio mayor and Council do. So all you’re really doing is taking an ideological position that you then project toward the Republican primary electorate, so that they can see that you’re a social conservative and you are manning the ramparts against undesirable social change.”...