Marine Staff Sergeant Eric Alva was the first American to be injured in the Iraq war. He stepped on a landmine and lost his leg. That sort of sacrifice is usually honored by people on the right side of politics, but no more. Now, you have to be the “right kind” of soldier to garner their gratitude for losing a leg in service to America, and gay is a deal killer.
Wednesday evening, the San Antonio City Council held a public hearing to consider adding sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and veteran status to their non-discrimination law. Two hundred people signed up to speak about the prospective changes, both for and against. Among the speakers? Eric Alva.
Outside, another 300 people, most dressed in blue, gathered to pray for God to deliver them from the threat of losing their right to discriminate. They prayed in English and then they prayed in Spanish, to make sure God understood their predicament. The city was considering requiring them treat all of his children with equal dignity, not just the straight ones like he put in his plan. How dare they!
“We need our prayers to touch our council members. Let them vote ‘no’ to this ordinance, and ‘yes’ to the reign of the kingdom of God.”
- Pastor James Flowers
“We see this as an infringement on our freedom of speech, our freedom of religion; and to impose penalties? Where is the equality there?”
Inside, the council chamber was filled to capacity. Eric Alva, who lives in San Antonio, stepped to the microphone to speak about the protections under consideration, one of which would make it illegal to discriminate against a military vet because of his service.
As soon as Eric mentioned he was gay, the crowd broke into boos.
Eric pressed forward with his prepared remarks in support of the additions to the non-discrimination ordinance. But before leaving the stage, he looked out at the audience and addressed the “religious” detractors who had shown such disrespect.
“To all you people that preach the word of God, shame on you because God loves me, like the day I laid bleeding on the sands of Iraq and that’s why he saved me.”
Later, Eric talked about the experience on his Facebook page, where friends and strangers alike left him apologies and messages of support.
“Well I just left city council chambers and I feel like crying. I have never seen a city so divided and hateful towards each other. All of man kind should be ashamed. I already spoke and even some of the religious groups even boo’ed me as I spoke. Such disrespect as they preach the word of God.”
The council will debate the non-discrimination additions August 28. Pastor Flowers is already organizing another prayer vigil, in case God missed this one, or forgets. A final vote on the additions is scheduled for September 5.
Photos from Eric Alva’s Facebook Page
Jean Ann Esselink is a straight friend to the gay community. Proud and loud Liberal. Closet writer of political fiction. Black sheep agnostic Democrat from a conservative Catholic family. Living in Northern Oakland County Michigan with Puck the Wonder Beagle.
We invite you to sign up for our new mailing list, and subscribe to The New Civil Rights Movement via email or RSS.