News: Jim Crow for Gays

A loud call for reform in Cincinnati came from the Westin Hotel last month, in the form of unanimous resolutions by the International Association of Official Human Rights Agencies (IAOHRA). The o

 
Jymi Bolden


Todd Portune supports repeal.



A loud call for reform in Cincinnati came from the Westin Hotel last month, in the form of unanimous resolutions by the International Association of Official Human Rights Agencies (IAOHRA).

The organization called for the city to repeal Article 12 of the city charter, which prohibits anti-discrimination measures on behalf of gays and lesbians.

Unless the city changes its charter, you can count IAOHRA as one of the conventions that won't return to Cincinnati soon.

"IAOHRA will in no case hold its annual conference in any city whose laws in any way prevent the city from prohibiting discrimination against persons on the basis of ... sexual orientation or gender identity," one of the resolutions says.

Cincinnati must end legal discrimination against gays in order to become a world-class city, the organization argues.

"IAOHRA urges the citizens of Cincinnati, Ohio, to repeal Article XII of the city charter so that the city may take its proper place in the community of cities and counties as a defender and promoter of human and civil rights for all people," a second resolution says.

A growing awareness links discrimination against African Americans with discrimination against gays and lesbians in Cincinnati. The Combined Coalition for Justice and Racial Equality — organizers of a boycott of the city because of conflicts over treatment of African Americans — included discrimination against gays in its letter to the U.S. Olympic Committee. The letter asked the committee to honor the black boycott.

"Cincinnati's shortcomings include police brutality, economic apartheid (and) officially sanctioned discrimination against gays and lesbians," the letter said.

Large numbers of gay and lesbian activists are already active in supporting demands for justice for African Americans. Last weekend, for example, the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center hosted an outreach initiative on ways to help fight injustice in Cincinnati. The June 2 national March for Justice — directed at Cincinnati Police violence and racism — received endorsements from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the Gay Pride Parade and Festival Committee, Out and Equal Cincinnati 2001 and Parents, Friends and Family of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG).

In a recent letter to Cincinnati 2012 , the organization working to bring the Summer Olympics to town, Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune linked the issues of racial unrest and anti-gay discrimination.

"Whether it is the underlying social, racial and economic tensions which led to the April riots and ongoing unrest, or the continuing blemish on our city that is the charter amendment known as Issue 3 (a piece of legislation that is unique to any other city in the United States) — we have much work ahead of us as a community," the letter says.

In 1994, U.S. District Judge S. Arthur Spiegel ruled Issue 3 — the ballot measure that codified Article 12 — unconstitutional. The ruling was later overturned by a federal appeals court, but Spiegel's ruling resonates even louder seven years later.

"Thus, under its very language, Issue 3 completely excludes an entire group of citizens from all areas of city politics with respect to issues of vast importance to that group," Spiegel wrote. "Issue 3 completely cuts off gay, lesbians and bisexuals from the normal and accessible avenues of political action and political participation, and ... violates even rudimentary notions of fundamental fairness, and undermines the integrity of our nation."

Issue 3 also cuts off something Cincinnati wants more of: downtown spending. According to estimates by the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce, the city has lost $64 million in convention business since passage of Issue 3.

The 2012 Olympics could be, for Cincinnati, the big one that got away, unless the city eliminates legal discrimination against gays and lesbians. Even former City Councilmember Nick Vehr, the moving force behind the Olympic scheme, says Article XII could be an insurmountable hurdle. While on council, Vehr voted to remove from the city's Human Rights Ordinance an amendment protecting sexual orientation.

Citizens to Restore Fairness, a group working with Stonewall Cincinnati for the repeal of Article XII of the charter, wants change before the U.S. Olympic Committee decides on a U.S. city for the 2012 summer Games.

"Citizens to Restore Fairness and Stonewall Cincinnati strongly urge area businesses and other community leaders to follow the bold leadership shown by IAOHRA and help repeal Article XII before the USOC makes their decision in late 2002 or early 2003," says a statement issued by Stonewall.

Making It Easier to Clean House

 
Jymi Bolden


Todd Portune supports repeal.



A loud call for reform in Cincinnati came from the Westin Hotel last month, in the form of unanimous resolutions by the International Association of Official Human Rights Agencies (IAOHRA).

The organization called for the city to repeal Article 12 of the city charter, which prohibits anti-discrimination measures on behalf of gays and lesbians.

Unless the city changes its charter, you can count IAOHRA as one of the conventions that won't return to Cincinnati soon.

"IAOHRA will in no case hold its annual conference in any city whose laws in any way prevent the city from prohibiting discrimination against persons on the basis of ... sexual orientation or gender identity," one of the resolutions says.

Cincinnati must end legal discrimination against gays in order to become a world-class city, the organization argues.

"IAOHRA urges the citizens of Cincinnati, Ohio, to repeal Article XII of the city charter so that the city may take its proper place in the community of cities and counties as a defender and promoter of human and civil rights for all people," a second resolution says.

A growing awareness links discrimination against African Americans with discrimination against gays and lesbians in Cincinnati. The Combined Coalition for Justice and Racial Equality — organizers of a boycott of the city because of conflicts over treatment of African Americans — included discrimination against gays in its letter to the U.S. Olympic Committee. The letter asked the committee to honor the black boycott.

"Cincinnati's shortcomings include police brutality, economic apartheid (and) officially sanctioned discrimination against gays and lesbians," the letter said.

Large numbers of gay and lesbian activists are already active in supporting demands for justice for African Americans. Last weekend, for example, the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center hosted an outreach initiative on ways to help fight injustice in Cincinnati. The June 2 national March for Justice — directed at Cincinnati Police violence and racism — received endorsements from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the Gay Pride Parade and Festival Committee, Out and Equal Cincinnati 2001 and Parents, Friends and Family of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG).

In a recent letter to Cincinnati 2012 , the organization working to bring the Summer Olympics to town, Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune linked the issues of racial unrest and anti-gay discrimination.

"Whether it is the underlying social, racial and economic tensions which led to the April riots and ongoing unrest, or the continuing blemish on our city that is the charter amendment known as Issue 3 (a piece of legislation that is unique to any other city in the United States) — we have much work ahead of us as a community," the letter says.

In 1994, U.S. District Judge S. Arthur Spiegel ruled Issue 3 — the ballot measure that codified Article 12 — unconstitutional. The ruling was later overturned by a federal appeals court, but Spiegel's ruling resonates even louder seven years later.

"Thus, under its very language, Issue 3 completely excludes an entire group of citizens from all areas of city politics with respect to issues of vast importance to that group," Spiegel wrote. "Issue 3 completely cuts off gay, lesbians and bisexuals from the normal and accessible avenues of political action and political participation, and ... violates even rudimentary notions of fundamental fairness, and undermines the integrity of our nation."

Issue 3 also cuts off something Cincinnati wants more of: downtown spending. According to estimates by the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce, the city has lost $64 million in convention business since passage of Issue 3.

The 2012 Olympics could be, for Cincinnati, the big one that got away, unless the city eliminates legal discrimination against gays and lesbians. Even former City Councilmember Nick Vehr, the moving force behind the Olympic scheme, says Article XII could be an insurmountable hurdle. While on council, Vehr voted to remove from the city's Human Rights Ordinance an amendment protecting sexual orientation.

Citizens to Restore Fairness, a group working with Stonewall Cincinnati for the repeal of Article XII of the charter, wants change before the U.S. Olympic Committee decides on a U.S. city for the 2012 summer Games.

"Citizens to Restore Fairness and Stonewall Cincinnati strongly urge area businesses and other community leaders to follow the bold leadership shown by IAOHRA and help repeal Article XII before the USOC makes their decision in late 2002 or early 2003," says a statement issued by Stonewall.

Making It Easier to Clean House

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