Marine Eric Alva, the first American soldier wounded in the Iraq war when he stepped on a landmine, was booed Wednesday while attending a meeting in support of a nondiscrimination ordinance in San Antonio.
Alva, who took an active role in pushing for the repeal of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, spoke about why the ordinance mattered to him.
"I told people how I lost my leg and fought for the rights and freedoms of the people in our country, not just those who were sitting there with their bibles and their crosses in opposition to the ordinance," Alva told BuzzFeed.
"Without this ordinance I can be denied from applying for a job or thrown out of an establishment, regardless of if I'm a purple heart recipient or a wounded warrior. As soon as I said that the crowd started booing me," Alva said.
At a prayer vigil outside City Hall before the event, 300 people protested the proposed addition to San Antonio's anti-discrimination law. It would add protections for sexual orientation, gender identity and veteran status.
"Let them vote 'no' to this ordinance, and 'yes' to the reign of the kingdom of God," Pastor Charles Flowers said at the rally.
Alva said he was very upset and shaking because he has never been booed like that. Before leaving the podium, he directed this comment to those who booed him.
Author Anne Rice took to her Facebook page to talk about the response to Alva.
The story of the anti-discrimination ordinance got even uglier on Thursday when the San Antonio Express published a recording of Republican councilwoman Elisa Chan, who will be voting on the ordinance, where she makes anti-gay remarks.
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 says. "I never bought in that you are born, that you are born gay. I can't imagine it."
As the talk shifts 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 continues. "I'm telling you. Crazy. We're getting to crazy realm."
Reached for comment, Chan's chief of communications, Roger LeGrand, says Chan left for a planned vacation and is unreachable at the moment.
Texas congressman Joaquin Castro repudiated Chan's comments and the actions of those who booed Alva in a statement to BuzzFeed.
The intolerant views expressed by Councilwoman Chan and the deplorable actions of those who booed a wounded warrior do not represent the sentiments of most San Antonians. Our city celebrates diversity and prides itself in supporting our veterans as Military City, USA. Sadly, the vitriol Eric received and the remarks by the Councilwoman are a reminder of why the San Antonio City Council must take action to protect LGBT residents against discrimination. Our city ought to be a place that is welcoming and fair to everyone regardless of race, gender, religion or sexual orientation.
For his part, Alva said Chan should have been more careful.
I feel for Miss Chan. You have a right to freedom of speech, but when you are in public office or a public figure you have to be careful what you say. I hold my tongue too.