SAN ANGELO, TX –– On Monday morning, pro-life supporters gathered in front of City Hall to show their support for the movement to make San Angelo a Sanctuary City.
Earlier this month, supporters of the initiative attended a city council meeting where they urged Mayor Brenda Gunter and the six councilmembers to vote to approve the ordinance -- just as 36 other cities in Texas, Nebraska, and Ohio had previously done.
According to Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn, the vast majority of cities that have passed the ordinance are relatively small when compared to the population of this city.
The smallest city is Impact, TX, with a population of 20, and the largest is Big Spring, TX, with 28,882. Lubbock is the only sanctuary city with a population in the hundred-thousands.
"We know that this is something San Angelo wants," said Pastor Ryan Buck, of Immanuel Baptist Church. "There is a groundswell that wants to see this happen in San Angelo. It is very important for us that we get the city council to do this in their agenda."
During the last meeting, Mayor Gunter stated San Angelo would follow the example of Lubbock and put the measure to a vote during the next election. The City of Lubbock is the only sanctuary city to host an election instead of enacting an ordinance.
Pro-life supporters pushed back on this idea stating it was the city council's responsibility to represent the wishes of their constituents.
"What we are asking the mayor and council to do is put the ordinance on the agenda for a vote," said Dickson."We are not asking for a citywide election, in fact, we think that puts the city at great risk."
Both Pastor Buck and Mark Lee Dickson of the Right to Life East Texas argued that by putting the issue to a vote, the Lubbock City Council had ignored the voices of their constituents and allowed abortions to continue taking place.
In San Angelo, there are no places where abortions are being performed at this time.
According to Buck, by putting the issue on the ballot next May pro-abortion groups would have the opportunity to focus on San Angelo.
"We do not want San Angelo, TX to become ground zero in this state for the abortion industry and people that do not represent our values coming in and trying to exploit our community and the lack of leadership of our city council and mayor," said Buck.
"You put this on the ballot and this is going to go to the May 2022 ballot," said Dickson. "Are we really going to endure eight months of back and forth with the abortion industry? Are we really going to do eight months of ads being run against this ordinance? Are we really going to cost the taxpayers all this money?"
Both Buck and Dickson stated their goal was not to bypass voters, but rather it was elected officials who were skirting their responsibility to their constituents.
"The mayor and the city council are trying to circumvent their responsibilities. We don't have a referendum or a vote for every decision the city council makes. They are trying to get the monkey off their back with this one issue," stated Buck. "But they put the monkey on their back whenever they ran for office and they were elected by the people of San Angelo to represent them. If they chose to put the measure on the ballot that is fine, we will and will fight that battle and hurt San Angelo."
According to Dickson, this ordinance is no different than any other issue taken up by the city council and emphasized that the authority to decide if the issue is sent to the ballot lies with the council, not the mayor.
Pastor Buck argued that when many of the city council members were elected they stated they were pro-life and "this is an opportunity to take the stand.
"We are calling on the city council and mayor for an up-and-down vote on the agenda to hear whether or not they stand with the unborn. We do not want to go the way of Lubbock where they ignored the people."
To show further support for the ordinance, Buck also pointed to the four thousand signatures the church's petition has garnered over the last several months as proof that the community supports this initiative. The petition is available at the church's website at www.ibcfam.org.
A counter-petition was created in San Angelo to dissuade the city council from approving the ordinance on Change.org. The petition has received nearly 500 signatures.