Fox News continued its fact-free attack on a proposed San Antonio ordinance to ban anti-LGBT discrimination, blatantly misrepresenting the measure while portraying it as an attack on "faith."
During the August 16 edition of Fox & Friends, guest host Shannon Bream invited San Antonio pastor Steven Branson to criticize a proposed non-discrimination ordinance that would:
- prohibit city government, contractors, and vendors from discriminating against LGBT people in employment.
- prohibit housing and public accommodation discrimination against LGBT people.
- prohibit City Council members from engaging in discrimination or demonstrating bias against LGBT people "while serving in such public position."
Bream confused two separate portions of the ordinance, falsely stating that businesses owners would be barred from holding city contracts if they spoke out against homosexuality:
BREAM: A First Amendment battle heating up in San Antonio, Texas, as lawmakers consider a controversial measure that could block business owners from holding contracts with the city if they speak out against homosexuality based on their religious beliefs. That could include Christians who believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. So does this wind up being a case of reverse discrimination, potentially?
BREAM: I know that this ordinance, which basically says that you can't hold certain positions or get work with this city - and it's in draft form now - if you speak out in "word or deed" against homosexuality.
In reality, business owners would only be denied contracts if they discriminated against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity (which is actually a pretty big problem in America). The "word or deed" portion of the ordinance has to do with city appointments, not employment decisions.
Pastor Branson agreed with Branson's misinterpretation of the law, inaccurately adding that the measure contained no religious exemptions for churches even though it does, explicitly, several times.
Bream went on to falsely state that Christians could be punished for anti-gay remarks they had made "in the past," referring to a part of the ordinance that has been removed for over a month - specifically to allay concerns about religious discrimination. Even Pastor John Hagee, a vocal opponent of the measure, acknowledged that the changes to the ordinance helped resolve concerns about religious liberty, telling his congregation:
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.
Bream concluded the segment by stating "First Amendment, very important, we've got to keep fighting for it here in this country."
Notably absent from the one-sided segment, which opened with a slide that read "THE FIGHT FOR FAITH," was any mention of the high levels of employment, housing, and public accommodation discrimination LGBT people face on a daily basis. For Fox News, promoting the narrative that Christians are being bullied by gay people is paramount, even if it means criticizing parts of laws that don't actually exist.