Domestic partner benefits and recreation cuts discussed in San Antonio District 6 Budget Hearing

San Antonio residents gave impassioned pleas to city officials about the city's proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

About 60 people gathered Monday, August 22, at the Alicia Treviño Lopez Senior One Stop Center for the District 6 public meeting about the proposed budget. Officials representing city departments were there to listen to reactions to the proposal.

Among discussions were plans to extend benefits to domestic partners of city employees and reductions in funding to the city's Parks and Recreation department that would potentially eliminate a music instruction program.

Listen to the entire public hearing (player will open in new window and begin immediately). The only edit was to remove the 12-minute video, which can be seen below.

Multiple people spoke against the city's proposal to extend benefits to domestic partners while one person said he agreed with the proposal. Those speaking against the plan stated that the city was becoming too entrenched in its citizens' lives, the program would be too costly and that it would cheapen the meaning of marriage.

Some of those against the domestic partner benefits plan also registered complaints about funding of the San Pedro Playhouse following its performance of the play, "Corpus Christi," which they called blasphemous.

The play depicts Jesus Christ and his desciples as gay men and follows them from childhood to Jesus Christ's crucifixtion, according to the Texas Tribune. Jack Finger, a frequent speaker at city council meetings, stated he would rather all funding for the arts be stripped than any being provided for groups that depict blasphemous materials.

The second group protested cuts to the city's Parks and Recreation budget that would force the closure of a musical instruction program and band comprised of local youth. Two students of the program and their parents pleaded tearfully with city staffers to find a way to keep the program going. Jonathan Ochoa, drummer of the band "Take Note," said he wouldn't be on the path he is currently on without the music program or the band and asked staffers to reduce funds to the city's police and fire departments to ensure the program's future.

Other issues discussed at the meeting were the continued support of programs such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Texas, the Family Service Association and Head Start. One woman stated her displeasure with recent council decisions to replace the River Walk's Christmas lights with LED lights and the recent renaming of Durango Boulevard to Cesar E. Chavez Boulevard in memory of the civil rights leader. The woman cited the cost of both decisions as her reasons for opposition.

See below: photos from the District 6 meeting and a promotional video produced by the city of San Antonio to inform residents of the proposed budget changes.

There are six more public meetings scheduled to discuss the proposed budget as of Tuesday, August 23.