A San Antonio councilwoman is refusing to back down amid the storm of controversy over disparaging remarks she made about gay people.
Elisa Chan was secretly recorded during a staff meeting to discuss a proposed non-discrimination ordinance. In it, she said she "never bought in" to the idea that people are born gay, and seemed to call homosexuality "disgusting." The recording, made by a staff member who later quit, was given to the San Antonio Express-News.
Councilwoman Elisa Chan is under fire for controversial comments she made about homosexuality. (Photo credit: San Antonio Express-News)
At a news conference Tuesday, Chan offered no apology and said her remarks were made during what was supposed to be a confidential meeting with her staff.
"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 supposed to worry about what we say," the councilwoman said.
Chan said many of the comments were taken out of context, including her use of the word 'disgusting' to describe gay people.
"I made that comment in reaction to pedophilia and bestiality and quite frankly, I still find those behaviors disgusting," she said.
She said the other remarks reflect her personal belief system.
"My belief system is mine. It does not mean that I would like to impose those beliefs onto anyone else," she said. "Even though the LBGT community and I do not share the same views, I respect and support their personal freedoms and right to their lifestyle. I will, however, not change my own values or beliefs for political gain or survival."
Chan reiterated that it is her right to express her private views in a private conversation.
"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.