The San Antonio Express-News ran an exposé on a member of the City Council there, Elisa Chan, on awfully homophobic comments she made while under secret recording. The recording is from May and involves Chan’s opposition to the city’s proposed non-discrimination ordinance.
For those not familiar, the City of San Antonio is debating an ordinance that would add both “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the city’s non-discrimination laws, adding the categories with protected classes such as race, sex, religion and disability (among others). The ordinance was perhaps most controversial for awhile when it included a clause that would have prohibited the holding of public office for those found guilty of violating the ordinance. That clause has since been removed, because, to be fair, we do have a constitutional right to be bigoted (see: “Westboro Baptist Church”). After the revision, some major figures in the evangelical community gave their full support to the bill.
The specific calumnies do not deserve the honor of being reprinted, because they are totally without substance. What is important to know is that, when the eyes of the public were away, Chan revealed her untethered hatred for the LGBT community, and then, perhaps more offensive, formulated ways to veil this hatred as a policy disagreement with the ordinance. Chan discussed, at length, her intention to write an op-ed in the Express-News explaining her opposition to the ordinance. Her candid hatred, however, would not be included.
The Mayor of San Antonio, Julian Castro, pulled no punches when rightly criticizing Chan for her hurtful, defamatory remark. As the Mayor stated on his personal Facebook account:
Councilwoman Chan’s remarks were hurtful and ignorant. They do not reflect the views of the overwhelming majority of San Antonians. Ours is a city that respects and appreciates all people.
These sorts of opinions are the exact reason why a non-discrimination ordinance protecting LGBT is completely necessary. Sadly though, it is the reason why homophobia may continue being an ugly part of our lives well into the future.
Homophobia is not like racism. In fact, the two types of prejudice could not be more different. Prejudice exists in two different forms: institutional and overt. In years past, overt racism existed quite extensively. Following the passage of the Civil Rights Act, overt racism all but disappeared except for a few unfortunate pockets in the South. Institutional racism, however, has persisted.
Now, as being gay is becoming more and more accepted within our culture, overt homophobia is rapidly diminishing, making comments like Chan’s all the more controversial. Institutional homophobia, however, is becoming non-existent. This is because, no matter what you do, no matter how you raise your family, no matter who you associate yourself with, the rich and powerful could have a gay son or a lesbian daughter.
To be blunt, Republican Senators (like Rob Portman) have gay sons, but not African-American sons. This will cause institutional homophobia to disappear within a generation or two while institutional racism (unfortunately) will persist.
When it comes to overt prejudice, the opposite is true. As big of a scandal Chan’s comments made, if she would have been this racist, she would have already resigned. Racism in public is still much more controversial than public homophobia. This is because racism is guided by culture, whereas homophobia is guided by religion, and culture is much easier to change.
I get this inkling when I see polls that say 58% of Americans support gay marriage, whereas 37% of Americans believe being gay is a horrible, horrible sin. That 37% is motivated by religion, and will be very hard-pressed to change their minds.
Gay marriage will most definitely be inevitable, but I fear nationwide acceptance will not. People like Elisa Chan sadly remind me of that.
Burnt Orange Report has more.