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Group issues travel alert for LGBT travelers to San Antonio

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As the San Antonio City Council considers adopting a non-discrimination ordinance, one council member is defending comments made on a secret recording, where she made anti-gay remarks and suggested that sexuality is a choice. Those comments were leaked to the media, and created a fire storm.

Tuesday, Councilwoman Elisa Chan spoke out for the first time.

"I'm sorry if people were offended, but those are my personal opinions and those are my personal beliefs," Chan said.

Because Chan refuses to apologize and the fact that the San Antonio City Council has been looking at the ordinance for months without taking a vote, a gay rights group known as Get Equal Texas is issuing a travel alert to the gay community advising them to take special precautions when visiting San Antonio.

Those precautions are:

  • Avoid traveling alone in the city.
  • Only book travel at hotels which have policies prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • Visit only known LGBT friendly establishments, including restaurants, bars and venues.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and adopt other appropriate safety measures to protect yourself while traveling.

While some find the alert extreme, a spokeswoman says the alert is necessary to protect the LGBT community.

"Our hope is that travelers that are going to San Antonio will take extra precautions in doing so and that they are aware that it is legal for a hotel to throw them out of their hotel rooms or to deny them service, it is legal for a restaurant to deny them the right to eat there," said Tiffani Bishop of Get Equal Texas.

Get Equal Texas says the travel alert is to remain in effect until September 6. The San Antonio City Council is expected to vote on the non-discrimination ordinance on September 5. The ordinance would prohibit a business from discriminating against someone based on sexual orientation or gender identity. It would also prohibit discrimination against veterans.

If the council takes up a vote on September 5th, the ordinance is expected to pass as of right now. But it certainly has faced steep opposition over the past months.

One group that opposes it is Texas Values, which is based here in Austin. President Jonathan Saenz, says the ordinance reverses discrimination onto religious groups and private citizens who oppose it.

"If this ordinance goes forward it's going to face a legal challenge. It violates the Texas restoration and Religious Freedom Act. It violates our state constitution on religious freedom as well as the U.S. Constitution," Saenz said.

The city of Austin already has an ordinance in place that prohibits the city and businesses from discriminating against someone because of sexual orientation. And it appears that San Antonio could have a similar ordinance very soon.

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