SAN ANTONIO -- In a press conference Tuesday, District 9 Councilwoman Elisa Chan offered no apologies for anti-gay comments that sparked a firestorm of reaction.
Chan has been under fire for remarks made during a secretly recorded staff meeting earlier this year in which she could be heard calling homosexuals "disgusting" and saying that gays should not be allowed to adopt children.
During the press conference, Chan acknowledged her remarks might be viewed as offensive, but asserted they were intended for a closed meeting on San Antonio's non-discrimination ordinance.
"I know many people find the comments made in the meeting offensive, but again, it was a confidential meeting set in the privacy of my office where none of us are suppose to worry about what we say," Chan said.
Chan also argued her comments, which were leaked in a report to the San Antonio Express-News, were taken out of context.
Chan said her use of the word "disgusting" was in reference to pedophilia and bestiality and not homosexuality.
"Quite frankly, I still find those behaviors disgusting," Chan said.
"I stand strong in my First Amendment right to freedom of speech and our right to privacy. And as an immigrant, I consider this the greatest privilege of being a U.S. citizen," Chan said, drawing applause from some members in the crowd. ... "My belief, my views are mine. I do not impose that on anybody else. I'm not asking anybody to agree with me."
Reaction to Chan's anti-gay comments was widespread when the story first broke on Friday. San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro was quick to speak out against the councilwoman.
"Councilwoman Chan's comments were hurtful and misinformed and they don't reflect the views of the overwhelming majority of San Antonians," Castro said. "San Antonio is a city where everybody belongs. We're a city that treats folks with respect and appreciates our diversity."
Chan found support from other political voices including the Justice Foundation and River City Tea Party Patriots. According to statements from each organization:
"The Justice Foundation defends Councilperson Elisa Chan's statement which was attributed in the newspaper as being homophobic. These are natural reactions and legitimate points of view which as an American citizen, and as a Texan, she has a right to express and act upon."
"The River City Tea Party hereby expresses it support for our fellow Conservative, District 9 City Councilwoman Elisa Chan and her anti-homosexual stance."
On Monday, Chan's office issued a written statement:
"The comments from the staff meeting on May 21st were and are my personal opinions and thoughts as guaranteed to me by the 1st amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It is unfortunate that a former member of my D9 Council team betrayed the trust of my staff members and me. I will fight, I will always fight for our freedom of speech, especially in a private setting."