Mayor Appoints 15-Member LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee

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Pub Theology Guest Host Ashley Smith speaks about her experience as a trans-woman living in San Antonio at The Friendly Spot.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Ashley Smith.

Fifteen members will form a new committee tasked with formulating policy recommendations for Mayor Ron Nirenberg that address the well-being of the local LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, asexual or allied) community.

The mayor's office appointed a seven-member selection committee that spent several weeks combing through 193 applications to serve on the new LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee, his staff said Wednesday.

“I am excited to work with this dynamic group to improve the lives of our LGBTQ+ friends and neighbors,” Nirenberg said in a prepared statement. “This is a historic moment for our city and I encourage everyone to lend their voice to the work that we’re doing.”

Mayor Ron Nirenberg dons his Grand Marshal 2017 sash for the PRIDE Bigger Than Texas Parade.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Mayor Ron Nirenberg serves as Grand Marshal for the 2017 PRIDE Bigger Than Texas Parade.

Although the LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee is not an official City board or commission, the group will report directly to Nirenberg, said Maria Luisa Cesar, a senior policy advisor for the mayor.

"The 15-member committee offers a diversity of perspectives, including LGBTQ+ parents, members of the military, clergy, and subject-matter experts," Cesar said. "More than half of the committee is represented by people of color."

Choosing committee members "was not easy," Cesar said. "We received so many qualified applicants. It was incredibly competitive."

Applications were accepted between Feb. 23 and March 23. The committee will start holding quarterly public meetings beginning in May. Here's a list of members as provided by the mayor's office and slightly modified for clarity.

  • Rev. Naomi Brown, founding member and vice chair of The Center-Pride Center San Antonio board.
  • Ginger Chun, parent of a transgender child who started a support group, TransAllies San Antonio, for transgender families.
  • Alexander Darke, who is working on building recurring fundraisers to support homeless LGBTQIA youth.
  • Anel I. Flores, author and international performer who co-founded LeZRideSA, an organization that raises money for LGBTQIA youth.
  • Daniel Graney, former co-chair and member of Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio who helped mobilize support for the City's nondiscrimination ordinance, which was approved in 2013.
  • Jamie Hash, a management analyst for the U.S. Air Force who has worked with Lackland AFB officials to streamline the transition process for transgender personnel.
  • Barbie Hurtado, community organizer who has worked with the Queer Corazones group at the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center to bring attention to issues of gender diversity and representation.
  • Rev. Dr. William H. Knight, national speaker and activist for the LGBTQ+ community who has emphasized protecting students and employees from discrimination based on sexual and gender identity.
  • Erick "LaRue" Macias, who is a member of various boards advocating for transgender rights in the workforce. He also founded Men In Transition, a local transgender support group for men.
  • Chad Reumann, chapter president of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) who serves on diversity councils with his employer, Wells Fargo.
  • Luka Rios, the co-chair for Human Rights First San Antonio who advocates for Latinx trans women.
  • Maria Salazar, a family law attorney with a background in representing parents and children who has worked with New York’s Sylvia Rivera Transgender Law Center, San Francisco’s Harvey Milk Democratic Club, and San Antonio’s CAUSA.
  • Melissa Shiplett-Jupe, a board-certified counselor who is pursuing her PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision with a research focus in LGBT mental health and queer family creation.
  • Ashley Smith, an architect and president of San Antonio Gender Association (SAGA) who has advocated for the transgender community.
  • David Solis, president of the LGBT Chamber of Commerce who has worked against the passage of the "bathroom bill" and other legislation affecting LGBTQIA people.

"I'm honored and delighted, and I'm humbled to be a part of the committee, specifically to be a representative for transgender people," Smith said.

Enforcement of the nondiscrimination ordinance and violence against the LGBTQIA community, especially against transgender women of color, are two issues Smith would like to see explored by the new group.

"But at a more systematic level, [we need to] look at how discrimination in housing and employment and education and health care has a cumulative effect on LGBTQ people that can put us at great disadvantages and sometimes places of risk," Smith said.

Nirenberg will likely suggest areas of focus for the advisory committee, Cesar said, but "he wants the committee to have the autonomy to establish its own points of focus.

"We'll give them a charge to improve the lives of LGBTQ+ community members in San Antonio by giving us policy recommendations that highlight the challenges in the community and bright spots," she said.

9 thoughts on “Mayor Appoints 15-Member LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee

  1. I am delighted that the City of San Antonio has finally stepped into the 21st century where All of its inhabitants have a seat at the table.

  2. There were gay Republicans who applied but weren’t accepted but Democrat activist were. So there seems to be a lack of diversity there but the Mayor is Democrat.

    • Funny, I only see two members listed who are members of groups affiliated with the Democratic Party. The other 13 committee members appear to have no party affiliation listed in this article. Can you show us where all of these people are registered as something other than Republicans?

      (Hint: Texas doesn’t have party registration.)

    • Oh really? Ask the Republican Party of Texas where they are represented at the state convention as well. One simply cannot pretend the rights of the LGBTQ+ community have ever been advocated for by the Republican Party. I believe this task force is about ADVANCING the rights of LGBTQ+’s. In fact the Rep. Party works for just the opposite. So no, you can’t shake the devils hand and say your only kidding. Maybe what you can do is convince Republicans that human rights for all humans should be part of the party platform.

    • Maybe none of these gay Republicans you speak of were not qualified for the Committee. Maybe the other 15 had higher qualifications independent of any party preference. Did you by any chance read the TX Republican Party’s published stances on same-sex marriage and other LGBTQ issues in 2016 election? Uh, they weren’t pretty.

  3. I appreciate the effort, but truth be told — where there is no balance of opinion, don’t look for workable results.

    • So, in the name of “balance,” we should appoint KKK members and white supremacists to diversity advisory committees? And the Holocaust Museum should have Nazi sympathizers on its board or directors?
      True, not all Republicans are homophobic…but the Republicans who run this state sure are — look at how Dan Patrick and his Republican base-coodling cronies WASTED the entire recent lege session on bathrooms. And he never understood that his proposed legislation would have required transmen to use the same bathroom as his wife and mother. If, like Dan, you do not understand my point here, then google “transmen” and look at the images — those people are guys — yes, guys! — that Dan wants to legislate into the women’s room. Only in Texas. And North Carolina. And, unfortunately, too many other places in US.
      I’ll calm down now.

  4. Great!! Glad to hear it. The LGBTQ+ community were being completely ignored and avoided during the last mayor’s term because of religious bias, The City of San Antonio needed to step up and say, we’re not gonna be jerks anymore.

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