During his decade in the Texas House, Republican Dan Branch has never been one to demagogue on social issues, always more focused more on fiscal and other matters that lined up better with the values of his Park Cities constituency. Now that he's waded into the attorney general's race, however, he's abandoned his former moderation in favor of a campaign strategy built on pretending to be Greg Abbott.
So, two weeks ago you have Branch's amicus brief with the Texas Supreme Court in defense of the state law defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman. And now, you have Branch intervening in the contentious debate over San Antonio's proposed ordinance banning LGBT discrimination.
That debate has long since jumped the shark. The religious right has worked itself into a lather, convincing itself that making it illegal to, say, fire someone for being gay is an unconstitutional abridgment of the First Amendment right to think homosexuality is wrong. Then, City Councilwoman Elsa Chang responded to a recording of her making retrograde comments about the LGBT community by claiming she was being attacked for exercising her right to free speech and blaming the staffer who leaked the lengthy clip for violating her privacy.
Branch has no dog in this particular fight, but he decided to send San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro a letter, obtained yesterday by the San Antonio Express-News, urging him to drop the push for LGBT protections.
Branch takes his cue from the religious folks, saying the ordinance "would appear to discriminate against people who hold certain religious beliefs." He singles out one provision in particular -- that "No appointed official or member of a board or commission shall engage in discrimination or demonstrate a bias, by word or deed, against any person" on the basis of sexual orientation (which is pretty broad) -- as "deeply offensive" and an attack on liberty.
"For example, the proposed ordinance would exclude citizens from being appointed to city office or receiving a city contract if they believe -- as millions of people of faith do -- in the traditional institution of marriage," he writes.
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Castro has yet to fulfill Branch's request that he "please respond to this letter at your earliest convenience."
See Branch's letter to San Antonio after the jump