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The Brief: Sept. 5, 2013

The gay rights debate engulfing San Antonio may soon hit a crescendo.

An Alamo Plaza Better Block event on Aug. 17, 2012.

The Big Conversation

The gay rights debate engulfing San Antonio may soon hit a crescendo.

The San Antonio City Council today is expected to vote on — and likely approve — an ordinance that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the city's nondiscrimination policy.

Debate over the ordinance, which resembles policies in place in every other major Texas city, erupted last month after the San Antonio Express-News released a secret recording of Councilwoman Elisa Chan calling homosexuality "disgusting." The debate has since drawn hordes of protesters to City Hall — more than 700 people registered to speak for or against the ordinance on Wednesday — and has caught the attention of state leaders, including several Republicans running for statewide office.

Echoing conservatives' concerns that the proposal would violate the state Constitution and infringe on religious liberty, Attorney General Greg Abbott on Wednesday sent a letter to San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro warning that the city would face a lawsuit if it approved the ordinance.

"When the diversity being trampled is religious diversity, the Constitution must be reckoned with," wrote Abbott, who is running for governor in 2014.

Castro, who supports the ordinance, has brushed off the criticism from high-profile Republicans like Abbott and even U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who came out against the proposal last month.

"These days, unfortunately, it's campaign season," Castro, a Democrat, told The Associated Press. "What else would you expect?"

But as the AP writes, "The conservative backlash in his backyard is a weed in Castro's narrative that San Antonio already embraces the political values that will spread statewide and turn Texas blue."

Still, the proposal appears to have secured the support of at least six of the council's 11 members, meaning passage appears likely. Check out the city of San Antonio's website for more information on what the ordinance does and does not do.

The council will convene today at 9 a.m.


•    Some Texas abortion clinics prepare to shut down after new state law (The Dallas Morning News): "At least four abortion clinics in rural Texas and possibly three more are preparing to close, hobbled by a state law that requires the clinics to meet tougher medical standards. Administrators say a major reason for shuttering the clinics is that their doctors are having trouble getting admitting privileges at local hospitals — a new legal requirement that goes into effect at the end of next month. The tally of potential closures is the clearest evidence yet of the effects of the bill the GOP-run Legislature passed amid a raucous debate and that Gov. Rick Perry signed into law."

•    Grand jury to consider cases against Perry, Lehmberg (Austin American-Statesman): "A visiting state district judge began convening a special grand jury Wednesday to consider two possible criminal cases stemming from the April drunken driving arrest of Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg. The 12-member panel with two alternates, which may be seated as early as Friday, will help determine whether Gov. Rick Perry broke any law when he threatened to veto millions of dollars in state funding to Lehmberg’s office unless she resigned. The grand jury will also help determine whether Lehmberg violated any state laws, including those concerning obstruction, resulting from her behavior in the Travis County Jail immediately after her arrest."

•    Republican congressman chides Cruz for Syria rhetoric (NBC News): "A first-term Republican congressman forcefully condemned a comment by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, R, likening military intervention in Syria to acting as 'al Qaeda's air force.' Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., on Wednesday offered some of the most forceful Republican backing of President Barack Obama's desire for congressional approval for military action against Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime."

Quote to Note: "We certainly don’t have a dog in the fight. We should be focused on defending the United States of America. That’s why young men and women sign up to join the military, not to, as you know, serve as al-Qaida’s air force." — U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz on U.S. intervention in Syria


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