Tuesday, March 2, 2004

Bronson: Why is city's tax money tied to gay debate?

Click here to e-mail Peter Bronson
Gay marriage is the Super Bowl halftime show of the 2004 elections. Like parents who stared at the TV in shock, millions of voters are looking at San Francisco and thinking: "This time, they've gone too far."

But don't take my word for it. The most gay guy in Congress, Barney Frank, D-Peoples Republic of Massachusetts, said: "San Francisco being in a sort of free for all will be used against us politically.''

By "us," he means homosexuals who want to redefine marriage the way Queer Eye for the Straight Guy rearranges a man's closet.

I think Frank fears a Super Bowl tsunami of annoyed voters. As a reality show, it would be titled "When Families Attack."

"It hasn't quite dawned on many Americans just how big this issue could be,'' Stanley Kurtz wrote Feb. 10 in National Review.

He's right. While John Kerry is still refighting Vietnam, President Bush came out for a Constitutional Amendment to defend marriage.

The waves from that typhoon could capsize Kerry - and sink repeal of Article XII in Cincinnati. Nationally, a Pew poll shows 59 percent opposed to gay marriage. A local poll by Citizens for Community Values found 65 percent of Cincinnati opposed - about the same as the vote for Article XII to ban gay-rights laws.

So why is a city agency, generously funded with public money to promote harmony, promoting a mud-wrestling smack down over gay rights?

Councilman Sam Malone wants to know: "Why are we paying tax dollars to someone to undermine the City Charter and create divisive controversy?"

He's talking about the Cincinnati Human Relations Commission, which is given about $400,000 a year "to promote ways in which people in Greater Cincinnati communities learn to get along and safeguard equal opportunities for all."

Malone thinks the commission's recent vote to endorse repeal of Article XII - which was approved by 62 percent in 1993 - might be a legal violation of the agency's nonprofit status, which may prohibit political activity.

Malone says he served on the Human Relations Commission from 2000 to 2003, and "the CHRC has never voted to support a political issue."

While he served, board members discussed backing away from politics so that they could be more effective in tackling the city's top priority - race relations. "Everything else is secondary," Malone said. Getting involved in gay rights detracts from the mission on race, he said.

Advocates of repeal insist that helping people to "get along" is less important than to "safeguard equal opportunities for all." Human Relations Commission Chairman Art Shriberg said, "This is clearly within our rights and mission. We do not consider this a political position. We consider it a human rights decision."

But a long and costly court battle determined that Cincinnati's gay-rights ban does not restrict equal opportunity. It simply prohibits special "status" gay rights for homosexuals.

"Sixty-six percent of the people support this, so what the heck are they doing?" Malone wondered. Then he answered his own question: "People on the Human Relations Commission board are promoting the homosexual agenda."

In 1993, when church leaders warned that gay rights would be followed by gay marriage, outraged gays insisted there was no "homosexual agenda."

Sure. And gay marriage is just a harmless halftime show.


E-mail pbronson@enquirer.com

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