Today the San Antonio City Council will make a decision regarding the proposed Non Discrimination Ordinance. After setting aside the complexity of unwritten inferences, and cultural, religious, or environmental biases on both sides of this issue, I see something quite simple.
As I read the proposed ordinance, I see a measure that seeks to ensure that many of the basic rights that most of us expect to enjoy unqualifiedly as San Antonians, are just that – enjoyed unqualifiedly by all San Antonians.
The proposed ordinance strengthens and expands the simple right to be free from discrimination in City employment, city contracts, and appointments to serve on public on boards and commissions. An updated ordinance protects all of our rights simply because we are citizens. I cannot see where it does or attempts to do anything else.
One of the most wonderful things about being born a human being is that our creator has populated this earth with seven billion unique human beings. Despite our many similarities, no two of us share the exact same combination of thoughts, experiences, beliefs, and values. We don’t even share the exact same DNA. But wondrously, our hearts do beat the same, we share same great affection for those we love and feel the same pain when hurt.
There are things in this world that we as individuals may perhaps never be exposed to, understand, appreciate, believe in, endorse or value regarding our fellow man. I believe that is OK and not to be expected.
What is NOT OK is a condition where there are winners and losers for basic human rights protections when we don’t understand or accept each other. Understanding and acceptance by others should not be the test for rights. Luckily, in this great country, that test is called citizenship.
More pragmatically, this ordinance makes good sense. SA2020 represents the collective vision of thousands of San Antonians for our City’s future. As the North Star for our progress as a city and community through the end of the decade and beyond, it is our job to keep our community focused on our community’s ultimate vision for our City. That community vision includes deepening civic engagement by expand the diversity of city boards, commissions, and City Council and accelerating job growth and business creation so that San Antonio becomes a global leader in commerce. In that context, the Non-Discrimination Ordinance makes good sense.
- As a business friendly city looking to attract and compete worldwide for the best 21st century industries and workforce talent, can we afford to not create the most supportive environment for all future San Antonio companies, entrepreneurs, and workers?
- With less than 25% of our City’s boards and commissions filled, can we afford to lose out on dedicated, passionate, and capable public servants because they are at risk of discrimination?
- As Military City USA, can we afford to send the message to the members of our armed forces that while the federal government recognizes and protects the rights of all classes of citizens, the City of San Antonio does not?
I believe the simple answer is that we cannot afford not to approve the NDO. We must purposely reinforce our status as a model American City by acknowledging our differences, while fiercely protecting the rights that we all share as citizens.