Mayor Castro says her remarks were 'ignorant and hurtful,' but North Side Councilwoman Elisa Chan came out swinging today, saying her unguarded comments about homosexuality are 'my personal opinions and thoughts as guaranteed to me by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.'


  1200 WOAI news reports Chan's written statement were her first comments since the Express-News reported comments Chan made at a private staff meeting in May in which she expressed her disapproval with homosexuality, and her concerns about 'pan gendered' individuals.


  The remarks prompted both support and criticism for Chan.  They also prompted Councilman Ron Nirenberg, who now employs one of the Chan staffers heard criticizing homosexual activity on the tape, to place that staffer on leave.


  Nirenberg later Friday announced his support for the ordinance, officially guaranteeing it the six council votes needed to pass.


  But Chan, who says she will 'hold a news conference later in the week' to elaborate on her feeling about the proposal, says in the statement that "I will fight; I will always fight for our freedom of speech, especially in a private setting."


  She also criticized the former staffer who secretly recorded the strategy session on his cell phone and hand-delivered the comments to an Express-News columnist.


   "It is unfortunate that a former member of my D9 Council team betrayed the trust of my staff members and me," Chan said.


  The proposal would add sexual preference and gender identity to the protected classes under the city's anti discrimination law.


  Supporters say individuals currently can be denied service in restaurants and hotels and be fired from their jobs simply for being gay.  Opponents say the proposal, as currently written, would make people choose between their  sincere religious belief, whether Christian or Muslim, that homosexuality is wrong, and their desire to follow the law.


  There are also concerns that city contractors could be punished if the companies include employees who do not support gay marriage and gay rights, and that so called 'public accommodations' like restaurants, bars, hotels, and retail outlets, could find themselves investigated by shadowy and self-important  'human rights commissions' for not enthusiastically embracing the city proposal.


  The proposal is expected to come up for discussion at City Hall next week, and for a final vote of City Council in September.