Editor’s Note: The Rivard Report sent the following questions to both Mayor Ivy Taylor, and former state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte. Click here to read Taylor’s responses. For more context about the nondiscrimination ordinance and the local LGBT community, read: “Will the Next Mayor Make San Antonio More LGBTQ Friendly?”
Taylor and Van de Putte are in a June 13 runoff for mayor after a tight finish in the May 9 General Election. Early voting in the second round starts Monday, June 1 and continues though Tuesday, June 9. Click here for more voting information.
Rivard Report: How has your view of the LGBTQ community evolved in your lifetime and during your time in the state Senate?
Leticia Van De Putte: I have been a lifetime advocate of basic human rights for all individuals. I retained that sentiment during the my tenure at the Texas Legislature and will continue to do so in the Mayor’s office.
RR: Would you vote in favor of the non-discrimination ordinance (in its current form) if it came up for a vote the day after you became mayor?
RR: What are your impressions of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion? Do you think it will help enforcement of the NDO?
Leticia: It has good intentions, but without measures to implement it the ordinance serves as a symbol only. My concern is that until recently, almost a full year after the ordinance passed, there has been no meaningful efforts to implement the ordinance including the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
RR: Would you support making the human relations liaison position a permanent one and/or expanding the Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s staff?
RR: Currently the NDO applies to companies that provide “public accommodations” (i.e. restaurants). Would you support – either now or in the future – expanding the NDO to include private companies that operate outside of public accommodations?
Leticia: No, not at at this time. In the Senate, I authored SB237 in the 83rd Legislative session (regular) to add the gay, lesbian and transgender communities to state statutes with regards to employment and housing. The bill failed to make it out of committee by one vote but it would have codified the same protections as those at the federal level and in the military.
Right now, I believe that the City of San Antonio should get its own house in order first. The most effective way to prevent nondiscrimination in the private sector is for the city to lead by example, setting a high standard. In an inclusive atmosphere, the private sector will seek fairness and equality as a competitive business imperative as well as matters of fairness and equality.
RR: Some LGBTQ advocates say that more businesses – big and small – are ensuring equal rights to their employees because it’s “good for business” and that states/municipalities that do not, are putting talent attraction and retention at risk. Do you agree that providing equal protections for all is essential to San Antonio’s workforce development strategy and economic growth?
RR: Several state bills were filled during the current session that have attempted to override, some would say “undermine,” local control, including some bills would have eroded some aspects of the NDO, rideshare ordinance, etc. If elected mayor, would you actively follow and speak out against state bills that threaten to do so in the future?
Leticia: I have been adamant that local governments should have the ability to decide what is best without being undermined. I have always felt local officials are best suited to make decisions for their own communities.
RR: In general, what do you feel is the greatest challenge facing the LGBTQ community and how, as mayor, would you work to remedy it?
Leticia: The greatest challenges are apathy and not understanding the essential need for basic human rights. As Mayor, I would direct the city of San Antonio to set the example. We must no be a community that simply tolerates or accepts members of the LGBTQ community, but to fully embrace equality. This is what is best for our families and our city.
*Featured/top image: Leticia Van de Putte talks to reporters after a recent KLRN-TV forum. Photo by Scott Ball.