In one of the most dangerous constitutional violations Liberty Institute has ever seen, the City of San Antonio passed a so-called non-discrimination protection to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals in a way that stifles free speech and tramples on religious liberty.
The law targets citizens and businesses that hold traditional religious views about sexuality, and grants special protected status and rights to homosexual, bisexual, and transgendered individuals. Among other items, the ordinance:
- Subjects members of Boards and Commissions to liability for “malfeasance” if they have “demonstrate[ed] a bias by word or deed . . . on the basis of . . . sexual orientation, [or] gender identity . . . while acting in the official capacity while in such public position."
- Prohibits businesses from discriminating on basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in public accommodations, which includes “every business within the city . . . open to the general public and offers, for compensation, any product service or facility.” The penalty is a Class C Misdemeanor
- Prohibits discrimination in the sale or rental of housing. This offense is also a Class C Misdemeanor, although there is a very narrow exemption for religious organizations.
- Mandates that businesses and individuals contracting with the City must not engage in discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
“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,” said Liberty Institute President & CEO Kelly Shackelford.
The Biggest Shock
While it is shocking that an ordinance such as this actually passed, perhaps just as troubling is the fact that such discrimination is not merely the project of a “fringe” political faction.
That is because the driving force behind the law is San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro. Castro served as co-chair for the President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign, and is considered to be a “rising star” in the Democratic Party. He is often compared to the President, and with the push for this divisive ordinance, it seems he shares the Obama administration’s hostility towards religious freedom.
Coming to Your Town?
“The ripple effect of this law could go far beyond San Antonio,” says Shackelford. “This is not something that just affects residents of San Antonio. This should alarm every American who values their religious freedom.”
Hostility toward religious freedom is increasing at an unprecedented rate, and based on the many cases we see across the country, an ordinance like this may be headed to your city sooner than you think.
The good news is that Liberty Institute and our team of experienced constitutional attorneys are committed to stopping laws such as these.
Defeating the Discrimination
Liberty Institute attorneys warn that it is unconstitutional for any government, including the San Antonio City Council, to prohibit the free exercise of religion and to make it a “thought crime” to hold traditional biblical views on sexuality.
We believe this and similar ordinances can be defeated in court, and we are currently evaluating legal action against the City of San Antonio.
Liberty Institute is the largest legal organization dedicated solely to defending and restoring religious liberty in America, and we have an exceptional track record of success against government entities that seek to strip individuals of their First Amendment rights.
The only thing we need to continue that success is you! Please consider a gift today! At a time when so much hangs in the balance, your prayers and financial support have never been more critical.
About Liberty Institute
Liberty Institute is a nonprofit legal group dedicated to defending and restoring religious liberty across America — in our schools, for our churches and throughout the public arena. Liberty’s vision is to reestablish religious liberty in accordance with the principles of our nation’s Founders. For information, visit www.LibertyInstitute.org.