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Transgender Police Officer's Court Victory Seen as Major Challenge to Article XII

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On Thursday February 27th, a transgender officer of the Cincinnati Police Department won a lawsuit against the city based on claims that she was unfairly demoted from the position of sergeant solely because of her desire to live as a woman.

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A federal jury awarded Philecia Barnes, formerly known as Phillip Barnes, $320,000 in what may be the strongest legal challenge yet to Cincinnatiís infamous Article XII charter amen-dement. In court, Officer Barnes and her attorney, Al Gerhardstein, successfully argued that she was demoted four years ago to patrol officer solely because of her change in gender and that she will face continued discrimination despite this legal victory as long as Article XII remains on the books.

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During the two-week trial, the city attempted to argue that Barnesí demotion was based solely on poor job performance even though she scored 18th among 150 officers on a sergeantís exam.

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Following the verdict, Barnes filed a motion before US District Court Judge Susan Dlott to block enforcement of Article XII and grant her reinstatement to the sergeantís position.

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"Article XII sends the wrong message," said Mr. Gerhardstein, "Its clear implication is that gays, lesbians and transgender people have less rights than other people in the city."

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Passed overwhelmingly by voters in 1993 (68% approved), Article XII removed sexual orientation from Cincinnatiís existing Human Rights Ordinance and it also prohibits the city from ever enacting any similar protections for GLBT people. It has been appealed twice in federal court but has been ruled constitutional in both cases. In 1996, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear arguments on the case.

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Legal experts say that Barnes' case is dif-ferent because this jury verdict strongly suggests that Article XII is actually being used to dis- criminate. , or call (513) 681-4627. .

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