Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Gay-rights supporters file for repeal

Charter amendment faces fall vote

By Gregory Korte
Enquirer staff writer

Saying 11 years is plenty of time for Cincinnati voters to change their minds about gay rights, opponents of the city's controversial Article XII filed petitions Tuesday with the clerk of City Council to get the charter amendment repealed in November.

With more than enough signatures already counted, the move all but assures that Cincinnati voters will get a second chance to vote on the amendment, 11 years to the day after 62 percent of them approved it.

"The City of Cincinnati and its various boards and commissions may not enact, adopt, enforce or administer any ordinance, regulation, rule or policy which provides that homosexual, lesbian, or bisexual orientation, status, conduct, or relationship constitutes, entitles, or otherwise provides a person with the basis to have any claim of minority or protected status, quota preference or other preferential treatment. This provision of the City Charter shall in all respects be self-executing.

"Any ordinance, regulation, rule or policy enacted before this amendment is adopted that violates the foregoing prohibition shall be null and void and of no force or effect."

In fact, the Equal Rights Not Special Rights Campaign - the 1993 architects of Article XII who are organizing a campaign to defeat the repeal - won't contest the signatures.

Phil Burress, the social conservative activist from Loveland who's leading his own petition drive for a state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, is also leading the campaign to keep Article XII.

"We have no campaign to keep this off the ballot. We're anxious to let the people vote," Burress said. "I think it's great to educate the public about what Article XII says. The group supporting the repeal refuses to tell people what article XII says."

Those different messages are likely to be at the heart of the fall campaign.

Gary Wright, co-chairman of the repeal campaign, called Article XII "an outdated law that makes it perfectly legal to fire someone ... just because they're gay."

Burress, who helped write the amendment, said it's really about special rights for homosexuals. The amendment, originally intended to strike down a 1992 human rights ordinance that included gays and lesbians, prohibits City Council from granting "minority or protected status, quota preference or other preferential treatment" based on sexual orientation.

Wright hand-delivered more than 14,000 signatures to Clerk of Council Melissa Autry.



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