Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Gay rights ordinance may be reconsidered by council

By Gregory Korte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Election Guide 2003 provides an early look at the Nov. 4 vote with help on getting you registered, lists of area candidates and the latest campaign news. And there's more to come, including candidate profiles - as we get closer to Election Day.
The Cincinnati Enquirer asked all 26 candidates for Cincinnati City Council: "Should Article XII of the city's charter, which prohibits City Council from passing a gay rights ordinance, be repealed?"

Howard H. Bond (D), Samuel T. Britton (D), Laketa Cole (D), John Cranley (D), David C. Crowley (D), Larry J. Frazier (I), Brian Crum Garry (I), Leslie Ghiz (R), Glenn O. Givens Sr. (I), Marilyn Hyland (I), Damon Lynch III (I), David Pepper (D), Alicia Reece (D), John Schlagetter (C), Christopher Smitherman (C), Nick Spencer (C), Jim Tarbell (C), Eric Wilson (I).

John Connelly (R), Terry Deters (R), Pat DeWine (R), Tom Jones (R), Sam Malone (R), Chris Monzel (R), Barbara W. Trauth (R), Pete Witte (R).

Eleven years after Cincinnati voters amended the city's charter to forbid City Council from passing a gay rights ordinance, the next Cincinnati City Council will likely find itself back at the center of a national debate about discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Eighteen of the 26 candidates running for City Council say they would repeal the charter amendment now known as Article XII, thus allowing a gay rights ordinance to move forward.

With one exception, positions on Article XII break down along party lines. Democrats, Charterites and independents all support the repeal effort. Republicans - all except Leslie Ghiz - oppose it.

The question isn't academic.

If gay rights supporters are successful in putting the issue back before the voters in 2004, the 39th City Council will be forced to take sides.

And if Article XII is repealed, that same City Council will likely vote on a human rights ordinance that would forbid discrimination against gays and lesbians in employment, housing and accommodations.

Charterite John Schlagetter, the only openly gay candidate in the race, said he favors a gay rights law. But Article XII goes further than denying equal rights, he said.

It denies gay rights supporters their First Amendment right to petition their government and gives Cincinnati the "ignominious distinction" of being the only city in the country with such a provision in its laws.

Republican Sam Malone isn't buying it.

"They try to integrate it with some other issues to soften it," he said.

Few Republican candidates are actively campaigning in favor of Article XII. Most say the voters have already spoken on the issue, or that existing laws are sufficient to protect against discrimination.

Malone, however, is a named plaintiff in the lawsuit challenging the hate crimes law passed this session. City Council voted 7-2 in February - again, along party lines - for amendment to the city's ethnic intimidation ordinance that adds crimes motivated by sexual orientation, age and disability.

"It's mighty funny how some folks communicate their religious conviction, and yet compromise on the issue. I have a problem with that," Malone said. "I think we're talking about morality. We're talking about family values. The community has a right to say what the morality of the community shall or shall not be."


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