9/27/2013 By Susan R. Heylman
The City of San Antonio added sexual orientation and gender identity to the classes protected under its nondiscrimination ordinance. Before it enacted the new protections, San Antonio was the only major city in Texas that did not have protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) residents in its city code.
Previously, the ordinance had protections prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age or disability in the areas of city employment, city contracts and subcontracts, appointments to boards and commissions, housing and places of public accommodation.
The ordinance makes it unlawful for restaurants and businesses to deny anyone services available to the general public on the basis of any of the protected classes. The LGBT addition to the ordinance does not add any new employment regulations on businesses operating within the city that do not have contracts with the city, and it does not require any business to provide domestic partner benefits to their employees.
According to the city council, the additional LGBT protections in the ordinance do not change any bathroom, dressing room or locker room policies currently in place.
The ordinance has an employment exemption that allows a religious organization to show a preference in employment based upon religion. It applies to organizations whose purpose and character are primarily religious.
Under the public accommodation exemption, a church or other nonprofit is not required to lease its accommodations to groups covered by the ordinance, provided the profits of such accommodations (above reasonable and necessary expenses) are solely for the benefit of such organization.
The city council passed the ordinance with a vote of 8 to 3 on Sept. 5, 2013, and it took effect immediately.
Susan R. Heylman, J.D., is a freelance legal writer and editor based in the Washington, D.C., area.
AHR Note: As of June 5, 2013 at least 174 cities and counties prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of gender identity in employment ordinances that governed all public and private employers in those jurisdictions. This list does not include those cities and counties that prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity for city and county employees — such policies do not affect private employers in those jurisdictions.
Cities and Counties that Prohibit Discrimination Based on Gender Identity in Public and Private Employment, By State (Year Effective).