In a bombshell secret recording revealed ahead of a controversial city council vote, San Antonio Councilwoman Elisa Chan is heard to air her true feelings about lesbian, gay, and transgender people.
The recording was made in May by a former aide to Chan, James Stevens. On the tape, which Stevens gave to San Antonio Express-News columnist Brian Chasnoff, Chan expresses intolerant views about LGBT people and their sexual behavior. Worse, she and her staff discuss ways to oppose a bill to update the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance, adding protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, while keeping her anti-gay sentiments private.
Chan and her aides spend several minutes ruminating on the origins of homosexuality, whether gays are allowed to adopt children in the U.S., the definition of “pansexual” (“like they want to have sex with nature”) and the increased chance that a son will be gay if he already has three older brothers. While the comments reveal laughable ignorance about LGBT people, Chan’s remarks about how her views could influence her vote on the nondiscrimination policy were no joke.
In one segment, Chan admits, “You know, to be quite honest, I know that this is not politically correct. I never bought in that you are born, that you are born gay. I can’t imagine it.
James Stevens responds, “People will tell you, people will ask you, ‘Are you born straight?’ And that’s the counterargument.”
“Absolutely! We are born with our sexuality. Everything else is behavior or preference, in my opinion,” Chan says.
In another segment, Chan seems reluctant to air the full brunt of her views before the general public. “This is my philosophy, guys. Whatever you want to do in your bedroom, that’s none of my business, but do not impose your view on other people, especially become a policy. And I’m, that’s all. Because personally, I think it’s just disgusting just to even think about. All the…definitions… I don’t want to beat up anybody.” Her aides try to convince her that her opposition to the nondiscrimination bill is not because she’s anti-gay, but rather, because she’s pro-family.
And speaking of family, Chan has some opinions about that, too. “H-h-h-How are children… And by the way, this is politically incorrect. This is politically incorrect. I don’t think homosexuals should do adoption. They should be banned by adoption. You’re going to confuse those kids. They should be banned. If you wanted to choose that lifestyle, we don’t want to discriminate you [sic], but you shouldn’t affect…the young people. How terrible. Do we allow them to adopt? I think we do.”
LGBT rights supporters immediately protested in front of the capitol building in San Antonio when Chan’s comments became public. The Human Rights Campaign and other groups called for her resignation. Mayor Julian Castro, a 38-year-old rising star in the Democratic Party, said Chan’s remarks show a “level of bias and ignorance that’s astonishing,” according to the Express-News.
“My initial reaction was that I was shocked by what I was hearing. My second reaction was that it gives the wrong impression of San Antonio when people outside our city hear it,” he told the Express-News. “It was also astounding how misinformed and downright ignorant a lot of that conversation was.”
A grassroots LGBT rights group, GetEQUAL Texas, went a step further and issued a “travel advisory” for gay visitors to San Antonio, based in part on the Chan brouhaha and to call attention to the delay in holding a vote on the nondiscrimination bill. “Our local officials are dragging their feet, there is no state law to help us, and there are no federal laws in place we can rely on for protection. If the city really wants to welcome all people, they would take action immediately to pass this non-discrimination ordinance and end the fear of discrimination by LGBT travelers to our city,” said Jennifer Falcon, San Antonio Lead Organizer for GetEQUAL Texas, in a statement.
Despite the controversy, city council leaders expect the updated nondiscrimination ordinance to pass. A vote is scheduled for September 5.