An alleged secret recording of a Texas politician, leaked to the press Thursday by a former aide, made headlines because of the anti-gay rhetoric included.
James Stevens, a 28-year-old aide to San Antonio District 9 Councilwoman Elisa Chan, released the audio to the San Antonio Express-News this week. He apparently secretly recorded a May 21 meeting in Chan's city hall office to discuss an upcoming nondiscrimination ordinance. However, the audio shows that the focus of the meeting wound up being less about politics and more about personal, derogatory views of homosexuality, expressed by both Chan and her staff members.
“My decision to record in the first place was that, during the staff meetings, we weren't really discussing the ordinance itself,” Stevens told Express journalist Brian Chasnoff. “We were really just talking about ways to appeal to the (voting) base and to get them fired up as opposed to analyzing the ordinance ... [Chan's] not focused on the policy itself and how it's going to really affect the city. We spent 80 percent of that meeting talking about how disgusting homosexuality is.”
The ordinance in discussion was an anti-discrimination ordinance that would prevent discrimination based on veteran status, sexual orientation, and gender identity for city positions or jobs contracted with the city.
In the recording, the group discusses things like how the legalization of same-sex marriage could lead to the legalization of incest or bestiality, Chasnoff reported. Chan can purportedly be heard calling homosexuality and other "non-traditional" preferences "disgusting to even think about." She also says being gay is a "behavioral preference" and that same-sex couples should be "banned" from adoption.
"I don't think homosexual people should do adoption," she says on the audio. "They should be banned by adoption. You're gonna confuse those kids. They should be banned. If you wanted to choose that lifestyle, we don't want to discriminate you, but it shouldn't affect the young people. How terrible that we actually allow them to adopt?"
The Huffington Post spoke with Chasnoff in a phone conversation Friday morning. He has not spoken to Stevens, who gave his notice earlier this week, since Thursday, but Chasnoff said he told Stevens he would be releasing the audio.
"The response has been overwhelming positive," Chasnoff told HuffPost. "I've seen a few comments to the effect of... she shouldn't have been secretly recorded, but those are outliers. The vast majority of the responses have been positive. And I think people appreciate [getting] a glimpse inside her City Hall office while she's strategizing how to oppose this ordinance."
"I think it's significant," he continued. "There's been a lot of misdirection from folks on why they oppose this ordinance. Some people are saying it's going to endanger women and little girls in bathrooms because transgender males [sic] will be able to go in there ... this, I think, shows that misdirection reached to the council level."
In his report, Chasnoff describes an interaction he had with Chan Thursday:
But Chan balked at defending any comments in the recording.
“I think that's in a private setting and I don't know if that's — I need to hear that recording to know,” she said. “I'm not quite sure what you're talking about so maybe you can play that back to me. We talk a lot of things in the staff meetings, so I wanted to know also under what context.”
San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro (D-Texas) does not support Chan's remarks.
"Councilwoman Chan's remarks were hurtful and ignorant," Castro told HuffPost in a phone conversation Friday. "[No one should] believe for one second that they represent the views of San Antonians. Ours is a city that welcomes everyone and appreciates diversity."
While Castro supports the nondiscrimination ordinance, Chan and councilman Carlton Soules plan to vote "no" on Sept. 5.
UPDATE: A spokesman for Chan told HuffPost that they have no official comment on the "alleged recording."