In a not very surprising move, San Antonio Councilwoman Elisa Chan defended her anti-gay comments to the press Tuesday morning and they all amounted to the same fallacy as always- that her right to say these things is protected under the First Amendment.
Chan has been heavily criticized for saying things like homosexuals are “disgusting” and that lesbians and gays should not be allowed to adopt because seeing two women kissing would confuse the child. Chan does acknowledge that some will find her views as offensive, but remained unrepentant about them because, well, First Amendment.
Chan stated that “It was a confidential meeting in the privacy of my office where we are not supposed to worry about what we say.” According to the staffer who taped the meeting, Chan was more concerned about her public image than about whether or not her views were offensive. She wanted to craft an image that made it look like she was not homophobic while also opposing the inclusion of gender identity and sexual orientation in the city’s non-discrimination ordinance.
Chan also claimed that the her comments were taken out of context, which is rather difficult since the entire tape has been made available.
Mayor Julian Castro condemned Chan’s remarks saying that “Councilwoman Chan’s comments were hurtful and misinformed and they don’t reflect the views of the overwhelming majority of San Antonians,” Castro said. “San Antonio is a city where everybody belongs. We’re a city that treats folks with respect and appreciates our diversity.”
On Monday, Chan’s office stated “The comments from the staff meeting on May 21st were and are my personal opinions and thoughts as guaranteed to me by the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It is unfortunate that a former member of my D9 council team betrayed the trust of my staff members and me. I will fight, I will always fight for our freedom of speech, especially in a private setting.”
In a recent semi-scandal in Vermont, the point was made by Governor Peter Schumlin that, in this day and age, politicians should presume that they are on duty at all times even when they believe that they are in a confidential meeting or acting as a private citizen.
While many on the Right love to cry ‘freedom of speech’ whenever making an offensive comment, they are actually misinterpreting the Constitution which only bars the government from interfering with people’s speech and expression. The Constitution does not stop private citizens from criticizing or mocking someone else’s statements, especially if they are offensive or misinformed.
Here is the news report including her entire statement: