A San Antonio councilwoman is in hot water after a staffer leaked a recording of her characterizing homosexuality as “So disgusting!” in a meeting with her staff members over a proposal to add protections for sexual orientation and gender identity to the city’s non-discrimination clause.
James Stevens, the 28-year-old aide who leaked the recording of District 9 Councilwoman Elisa Chan, has now resigned. He said his decision to release the recording to the San Antonio Express-News because the meeting became a discussion of Chan’s homophobic views rather than an analysis of the proposal.
Chan “is only focused on her political future,” he said. “She’s not focused on the policy itself and how it’s going to really affect the city. We spent 80 percent of that meeting talking about how disgusting homosexuality is.”
The nature Chan’s discussion about homosexuality are especially troubling because of their reasoning, which, unlike many anti-gay discussions surrounding the ordinance, have nothing to do with religious beliefs on sexuality. Her comments instead rely on debunked biological and sociological ideas that indicate a level of ignorance truly troubling coming from a council woman who is rumored to be running for mayor in 2015.
In the course of the meeting, she and her staff discuss how the legalization of same-sex marriage could lead to the legalization of bestiality and incest, and that being gay is a “behavioral preference.” She also said that same sex couples should be “banned” from adoption.
I don’t think homosexual people should do adoption,” she says in the recording. “They should be banned by adoption. You’re gonna confuse those kids. They should be banned. If you wanted to choose that lifestyle, we don’t want to discriminate you, but it shouldn’t affect the young people. How terrible that we actually allow them to adopt?”
Apparently unbeknownst to Chan, San Antonio has the highest percentage of gay and lesbian parents in the country, with more than one-third of cohabiting same-sex couples raising children. Additionally, gay couples from cities all over Texas where gay couples must adopt children as singles, often travel to Bexar County (where San Antonio is located) to find gay-friendly judges that will allow them to complete their second-parent adoption. Oops?
In the recording, Chan admits her view that homosexuality is a choice is an unpopular one, and one staff member even says that “the newspaper will get to you” for believing that.
“That’s why I never would say that outside because they kill me,” Chan response. “When I say that it’s … behavioral preference, they say that, ‘No, you’re born with it.’ But I never bought into that.”
Then, an aide bizarrely suggests that homosexuality is tied to biology and that Americans have a shockingly good gaydar: “Americans can, with almost a 90 percent success rate, identify gay people by their face alone,” he says.
“No, that’s because they shave,” Chan replied. “And I also think they could take hormone shots.”
When the San Antonio Express-News reached out to Chan on Thursday for her response to the leaked recording, Chan decided to play coy and pretend not to know who Stevens was.
“No, I don’t think that rings a bell … James Stevens.”
“He works for you,” reported Brian Chasnoff responded.
“Oh, James, yeah sure,” she said.
Then Chan backed off from defending any of her comments:
I think that’s in a private setting and I don’t know if that’s — I need to hear that recording to know,” she said. “I’m not quite sure what you’re talking about so maybe you can play that back to me. We talk a lot of things in the staff meetings, so I wanted to know also under what context.”
Mayor Julian Castro, a rising star in the Democratic Party, said Chan’s comments reveal a “level of bias and ignorance that’s astonishing.”
“Some folks have wondered whether an update to the ordinance is necessary,” Castro said. “This is a strong example of why it is necessary. Unfortunately, this type of attitude is out there, and sometimes it’s acted upon, and protections need to be in place when it is acted upon.”
Listen to the leaked recording here: