San Antonio’s mayor, Julián Castro, rocketed to the national spotlight last year when he delivered the keynote address last August at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. In his speech, Mayor Castro told America, “Ours is a nation like no other, a place where great journeys can be made in a single generation. No matter who you are or where you come from, the path is always forward.”
However, news has now broke that Mayor Castro’s path forward will likely leave many behind.
Beginning in June 2011, a group of grassroots activists joined together with the goal of bringing San Antonio forward on LGBT rights. Although the city is the seventh largest in the nation, it is the only major city in the state of Texas without prohibitions against discrimination based upon sexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expression. This group, now known as the Community Alliance for a United San Antonio (CAUSA) sought to change that.
Mayor Castro gave his blessing to the endeavor, but that’s about all the help that was given to this group by City Hall. In fact, grassroots activists were told that they must author the ordinance amendments, in spite of Councilman Diego Bernal’s pre- and post- election promises to support the amendments.
LGBT organizers were right to initially put their faith in Mayor Castro’s leadership. Historically, he has been a strong ally to LGBT people. In fact, he was the first mayor of San Antonio to appear in the Gay Pride parade as its grand marshal, signed a proclamation declaring November 20, 2012 as Transgender Day of Remembrance in San Antonio, and helped lead a budget initiative which provided domestic partnership benefits to San Antonio City Employees. He also proudly signed the “Mayors for the Freedom to Marry” petition supporting same-sex marriage, and wrote on his Facebook page:
Today I proudly joined the mayors of Houston, Austin, New York, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles and more than 60 other American mayors of cities big and small in support of the ‘Mayors for the Freedom to Marry’ petition for same-sex marriage equality.
In spite of his past support for the LGBT community and as the election season heats up, his support seems to be wavering. For the first time, Castro has failed to complete an equality survey distributed by the Stonewall Democrats, in spite of numerous requests by the organization. As if pouring salt into the wound, news broke that he has now endorsed Councilman David Medina for re-election. Medina has a history of voting against pro-equality initiatives and has been known to obtain advice from people like Adam McManus, a former “Christian” radio show host and “strident homophobe.” This endorsement has further rattled LGBT supporters of Castro.
“We’ve waited long enough for action, and now the Mayor has endorsed someone who will undoubtedly vote against a human rights ordinance. With this endorsement, he has made it clear that human rights are no longer a priority of his office,” stated Mitsue McCoy, an organizer for GetEQUAL San Antonio. “We aren’t going to sit and wait any longer. Every day that goes by, more and more LGBT people are harmed by the lack of city, state or federal protections. It’s time we start holding our elected officials, even Mayor Castro, accountable for their broken promises and indifference. The Mayor’s leadership was our great hope and he spat on us.”
Mayor Castro is up for re-election, being one of seven candidates on the May 11, 2013 ballot, but his supporters are already preparing for a victory. Castro held his seat in the 2011 election with over 80 percent of the vote, a staggering victory. However, his endorsement of David Medina and inaction on LGBT rights issues will likely be a factor in the upcoming election and may significantly lower the Mayor’s standing, particularly if any of his opponents take a strong stance in favor of LGBT rights.
In his keynote address at the 2012 DNC convention, Castro also noted that, “In the end, the American dream is not a sprint, or even a marathon, but a relay.” Unfortunately for the people of the City of San Antonio, Mayor Castro seems to have dropped the baton.
Jay Morris is a State Lead for GetEQUAL.org, a founding member of the Direct Action Network San Antonio and blogger at jaysays.com. You can find him posting randomness on Twitter or engage him in conversation on Facebook.
We invite you to sign up for our new mailing list, and subscribe to The New Civil Rights Movement via email or RSS.