OPINION NEWS HEALTH PRIDE MONEY FAITH CALENDAR RESOURCES NIGHT LIFE HOME
. .
. .

Public Support Strong for Adding GLBTs to Covington Human Rights Ordinance

.

.

Supporters of a proposal to add sexual orientation and gender identity and other categories to the anti-discrimination law in Northern Kentucky's largest city were forced to put their celebration on hold, despite an overwhelming show of support at a public hearing February 11.

.

Mayor Irvin "Butch" Callery announced he will hold another public hearing on the proposal March 25, delaying a vote by the city commission on proposed changes until April. Callery said many of Covington's older residents were unable to attend the February 11 hearing due to cold weather, and March 25 was the next available hearing date. Supporters of proposed changes to Covington's human rights ordinance were hoping the expanded law would be approved in early March.

.

Covington's Human Rights Commission has recommended that elected city officials update the current ordinance by adding sexual orientation, gender identity, age, marital status, and parental status as reasons for which people cannot be discriminated against. The rights panel also recommended adding employment and public accommodations to the ordinance; the current law applies only to housing.

.

"Early on it occurred to us that while the existing human rights ordinance was a good beginning, it did not include all of the residents of Covington," Rev. Don Smith, chair of the Covington Human Rights Commission and a Presbyterian pastor, said in his address to elected officials at the February 11 hearing. "You will have the opportunity to bet on the future of Covington as a place where the dream of our pledge of allegiance is less spoken and more lived ... where there is truly liberty and justice for all." Smith was one of 38 people to speak in favor of the expanded human rights ordinance at the hearing attended by more than 200 people. Supporters included business owners, landlords, blacks and whites, men and women, grandmothers and college students, gays and straights, abled people and disabled people.

.

"I do not have the time to tell you how many times I have been discriminated against, or describe the instances," said Carl Fox of Covington, former owner of a gay-friendly bar in Covington who now owns a similar bar in neighboring Newport. "Many times when issues of discrimination came up I've been told there are no laws to protect you. That's why I am here tonight," declared Fox. "In order for Covington to move progressively forward, discrimination must end on all fronts," said Shawn Masters, vice president of a wireless communications firm in the city's Main Strasse Village. "If that means adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the existing ordinance, then do it. Standards must be set, and the community must be held accountable," said Masters.

.

Only two speakers objected to the sexual orientation provision in the expanded ordinance, using the same arguments gay rights supporters have heard for years. "This is protecting people based on behavior and that is not America!," exclaimed Sam Droganes of Fort Mitchell, whose family owns property in Covington. "We protect them based on innate characteristics, things that cannot be changed, but behavior is not one of them." "What people do in their bedrooms I could care less," said Clarence Wigglesworth of Covington. "But when they want 'special rights', I do care. I think that through federal laws and state laws, things are on a level playing field now."

.

Members of the Covington Human Rights Commission, who have been working on expanding the ordinance for two years, were ecstatic over the strong show of support. So, too, were members of the Northern Kentucky Fairness Alliance (NKFA), the local chapter of a statewide gay rights organization. "To hear speaker after speaker powerfully and passionately articulate the need to expand the ordinance was truly inspiring," said Dean Forster of Covington, who co-chairs NKFA's steering committee. "But now's not the time to celebrate because we still have a lot of work to do."

.

The March 25th hearing will be held at Latonia Elementary School and will begin at 6:30pm. NKFA strongly urges all supporters of the ordinance expansion to attend.

.

.

.

.

     

OPINION  /  NEWS  /  HEALTH  /  PRIDE  /  MONEY

FAITH  /  CALENDAR  /  RESOURCES  /  HOME

 

Published monthly by MAP Publications

PO Box 14971, Cincinnati OH 45250-0971  513-665-6809  map@ella.net

Contact our editor at bbeisner@advantext.com