by Mary Tuma
The local LGBT community is calling on council member Elisa Chan to resign, after a covert recording released yesterday exposed her homophobia. Photo by Mary Tuma
In a press conference outside City Hall Friday afternoon, members of the Community Alliance for a United San Antonio (CAUSA) and other groups expressed sadness, anger and betrayal with Chan’s comments.
LGBT activists say Chan should undergo education and sensitivity training due to her “unfounded fears” of homosexuality, at the least, and ideally, should vacate her spot as District 9 council representative. They said several attempts at reaching Chan today have got unreturned, adding to the frustration and hurt.
CAUSA co-chair, Dan Graney, teared up when asked how he reacted to the recording, “I was sad–after our talks, to know what was really in her heart
[And that sadness] turned to anger. Now, she really needs to step down from council.”
Released late last night by the San Antonio Express-News, the recording captures Chan’s confusion and bigotry of the LGBT community, including her view that gay couples should not be able to adopt children and her disgust with homosexual lifestyles. Chan’s comments put to rest the question of how she would swing on an upcoming LGBT non-discrimination ordinance vote.
“She’s let down so much of her constituency, we hope she’d resign. If not, she should meet with us and let us educate her,” an emotional Lauryn Farris, president of San Antonio Gender Association and board member of the Transgender Education Network of Texas-Alamo Region, told the Current. “It’s harder to hate people when you know them.”
Manuel Medina, chairman of the Bexar County Democratic Party said Chan’s comments were “proof positive that discrimination continues to exist” in the city. “We need the anti-discrimination ordinance to prohibit public officials from discriminating against our brothers and sisters in the LGBT community," he said.
Echoing the sentiment, Graciela Sanchez of the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center said the council woman’s remarks aren’t isolated but part of a pervasive culture of intolerance–and one that needs to remedied through ordinances like the one in front of council today. “She is not alone, these violent and hateful comments are typical of many people in San Antonio. A cultural shift needs to take place.”
Jeff Bazan, one of the voices of ignorance in the controversial conversation and a former Chan staffer, suggested the council woman could score the most “political points” by standing up firmly as “anti-gay.” Bazan, who migrated to District 8 council member Ron Nirenberg’s staff, was placed on “indefinite administrative leave,” today according to a statement from Nirenberg.
The storm of intolerance unleashed by Chan seems to have pushed Nirenberg to declare a hardline on his views of the NDO. In the same statement, the council member pledges to back the ordinance.
“[A]fter months of deliberation and refinement, today, I am also announcing my support of the latest draft of the nondiscrimination ordinance. Every San Antonian deserves equal protection under the law, and I look forward to casting my vote to ensure it.”
Also in the fallout, some one-time supporters of Chan are now distancing themselves from her. For instance, Democrat Jade Chang Sheppard, a candidate for Texas State House District 50 contributed $500 to the Chan campaign in 2011, according to a release. After hearing what she describes as Chan’s “hateful and discriminatory” remarks toward the LGBT community, Sheppard is requesting her donation back as well as public apology from Chan for her “shameful” comments.