Leaders of San Antonio, the second-largest city in Texas, approved a nondiscrimination ordinance for gay and transgender residents this week over the objections of conservatives, who have vowed to keep up the fight.
Other Texas cities have already passed anti-bias ordinances, including Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth and Houston. But this time, the measure was backed by Democratic Mayor Julian Castro, a rising star in the party and on the radar of Republicans keying up for statewide primaries in March.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, a tea party star, opposed the measure, as did Republican Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, who is running for lieutenant governor, and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is running for governor.
Abbott wrote to the mayor, warning that passing the ordinance could “envelop the city in costly litigation.”
City Council member Elisa Chan, who opposed the ordinance, angered supporters when comments she made to staff became public in the San Antonio Express-News, calling homosexuality “disgusting” and saying gays should not be allowed to adopt.
Hundreds packed City Council meetings and registered to speak about the ordinance as final hearings stretched from late Wednesday into Thursday morning.
The measure passed by a vote of 8 to 3. San Antonio joined nearly 180 other cities nationwide with similar ordinances prohibiting bias based on sexual orientation or gender identity, according to the Human Rights Campaign.