BY JULIE IRWIN
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Several hundred people -- gay men, lesbians and straight supporters -- showed up Thursday night at the University of Cincinnati to mark a difficult week for the gay community.
Civil rights lawyer Scott Greenwood joins a vigil at UC.
(Michael Snyder photo)
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The candlelight vigil in front of UC's Tangeman University Center was originally planned as a campus Coming Out Week event. The beating death of 21-year-old Matthew Shepard, a gay University of Wyoming student, turned it into a time of mourning. And the U.S. Supreme Court's refusal to hear a case concerning gay rights in Cincinnati made it part political rally.
"We as a minority and a hated community must pull together and begin a fight," Jocelyn Robinson of Stonewall Cincinnati told the somber crowd. "Let's show the right wing and the Christian right that we won't be quiet and we won't hide anymore."
Attorneys Scott Greenwood and Alphonse Gerhardstein, who represented the Equality Foundation of Greater Cincinnati in the case the Supreme Court refused to hear, urged the crowd to continue the battle they waged and ultimately lost. The law they challenged, passed by voters in 1993, bans specific protections for gays and lesbians in housing and employment.
"We brought this case because it was necessary, because gay people are the victims of discrimination across this great land," Mr. Gerhardstein said.
College students, politicians, pastors and members of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays joined the gay men and lesbians at the event. Many linked Mr. Shepard's death and the Cincinnati law as the sort of discrimination gays suffer daily.
"As a gay man, it really offends me that someone could be so blatant about their intolerance," said Ron Clemons of Madisonville. "It's important to come out and get support and be visible, and be with people who understand what it's like to have your rights taken away because of bigotry."