Television evangelist and pastor John Hagee on Sunday told congregants — and a national and international audience watching live — that he no longer opposes a proposed ordinance that seeks to protect the rights of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people in San Antonio.
He read a statement during his Cornerstone Church’s two morning worship services Sunday, reflecting confidence in the latest version of the ordinance, which is expected to go before the City Council on Sept. 5. And he claimed credit for a key wording change that ended his opposition to the measure.
At issue was a clause that would have allowed the council to consider whether candidates for city boards and commissions had discriminated against gay and transgender people in “word or deed” — which opponents saw as an invitation to consider their socially conservative views on homosexuality.
The proposal’s author, Councilman Diego Bernal, removed that language July 25.
“All of the previous language that infringed upon the freedom of speech, the freedom of exercise of religion and the ability for people of faith to serve on City Council has been expunged,” Hagee told the Cornerstone audience, prompting a standing ovation at the first Sunday service.
Hagee said he got the city attorney and Bernal to agree to the revisions in writing when they met Tuesday.
Though Bernal said he had made the revisions almost two weeks before that meeting, he said Sunday that the agreement and meeting with Hagee underscored the benefits of respectful dialogue.
“I was happy to share the changes with the pastor and his son,” Bernal said Sunday, referring to Mathew Hagee, the executive pastor at Cornerstone, who was also present.
“The ability to speak face to face about what the ordinance does and doesn’t do has proven to me time and time again to be the most effective method,” Bernal said.
Hagee said he had denounced the earlier draft through his church’s email network “weeks ago” and sent a letter to the council and mayor asking to discuss it. He spoke against it from the pulpit Aug. 4 and again on the nationally syndicated Glenn Beck talk show Aug. 5.
Hagee said he changed course the next day, after meeting with Bernal and reviewing the changes with his attorney and the Justice Foundation, a conservative legal defense firm.
Let me check…yep, the Earth is still spinning on its axis. Fire and brimstone are not coming down from the skies, rivers and seas are not boiling, and reports of dogs and cats living together should be considered premature and unconfirmed at this time. I haven’t followed this closely enough to know why that particular language was a hangup for Hagee, but just the idea that a guy like that wouldn’t flat out oppose a pro-equality ordinance on principle strikes me as a big deal.
Of course, plenty of Hagee’s brethren in equality opposition remain opposed to this ordinance, so at least some things never change. As it turns out, another opponent is SA Council Member Elise Chan, in an ugly and spectacular fashion.
Chan describes LGBTQ people as “disgusting,” saying they shouldn’t be allowed to adopt and that homosexuality is “against nature.” Former Chan staffer James Stevens surreptitiously recorded Chan’s comments on his iPhone during a May meeting on the proposed ordinance. Stevens provided the recording to San Antonio Express-News columnist Brian Chasnoff, who published a damning article today.
At one point in the recording, amid a tittering exchange about pansexual people, Chan interjects her opinion on the nature of homosexuality.
“You know, to be quite honest, I know this is not politically correct,” she said. “I never bought in that you are born, that you are born gay. I can’t imagine it.”
As the talk shifted back to pansexual people, whose sexual orientations encompass all gender identities, Chan asks, “How can that be?”
“I will say, ‘Strip down! What equipment do you have?’” she continued. “I’m telling you. Crazy. We’re getting to crazy realm.”
Stevens agrees that it’s “politically incorrect in some circles” to claim that people choose to be gay. “The newspaper will get to you,” he warned.
Chan was evidently aware that her homophobic remarks could get her in trouble politically, and vowed to keep them under wraps in public.
Clearly, the better strategy would have been to not be a despicable bigot, but perhaps that’s too complicate for some people. When John Hagee is a model of tolerance, you know things have gone a bit sideways. Concerned Citizens has more.