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Witness: Issue 3 was voters' right - City opens defense in gay-rights trial

The Cincinnati Post - Thursday, June 23, 1994 Author: Sharon Moloney, Post staff reporter

Cincinnati voters have the right to prohibit city council from passing gay rights protection legislation, says an expert in political philosophy.

Hadley Arkes, professor of law at Amherst College, testified Wednesday in U.S. District Court that ultimate political power resides with the people.

"Just as the Constitution is superior to the legislature, so the people are superior to the Constitution," Arkes said. "The source of authority lies in the people themselves." Cincinnati's constitution is its city charter.

Arkes was the first witness as the city and Equal Rights Not Special Rights opened the defense case in the Issue 3 trial before U.S. District Judge S. Arthur Spiegel.

The civil-rights lawsuit stems from the passage last year of Issue 3, a charter amendment that repealed the gay-rights section of the city's human-rights ordinance. Issue 3 also prohibited City Council, city boards and commissions from enacting or considering gay-rights legislation in the future.

Spiegel must decide whether that disenfranchises gays, removes them from the political process and violates their constitutional rights. The case has drawn national attention.

Spiegel granted a temporary injunction against enforcing the law pending this week's trial, as requested by Equality Foundation of Cincinnati, the gay-rights organization that filed the lawsuit. Spiegel has allowed broad opinion and testimony in the trial, saying he wanted the most evidence possible because the case would likely be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

In other testimony, Chris Finney, a Greater Cincinnati attorney who wrote the language of Issue 3, said its main intent was "to take away from council the right to pass this (gay rights) kind of legislation and return the right to the people."s. He said landlords and employers have the right not to rent to gays or employ gays if they object to their lifestyles.

"How does the sexual behavior affect whether or not a gay can eat in your restaurant or hold a job in your company?" asked Scott Greenwood, an attorney for Equality Foundation. Said Finney: "Because there may be some who don't want their family dining next to a homosexual couple whose actions they find offensive."

Finney said he was stirred to take up the Issue 3 cause because he "watched this council deteriorate to a liberal body out of touch with the people," and didn't like the human-rights ordinance.

Edition: Metro Section: News Page: 8A Record Number: CNP062300028300232 Copyright 1994 The Cincinnati Post

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Family PAC is stressing moral issues

The Cincinnati Post - Tuesday, October 14, 1997

A new political action committee, Family First, is taking steps to make its weight felt in the Cincinnati City Council race and the race for Cincinnati Board of Education.

The committee, whose chairman is attorney David R. Langdon, stresses views on abortion and homosexuality as the ultimate litmus test among the primarily social issues which it advocates.

The committee sent questionnaires to all council and school board candidates last month.

Langdon said candidates who expect to get financial support from Family First must answer the first six questions on the questionnaire in the affirmative. All six involve opposition to abortion and homosexual issues.

"We are doctrinaire on these first six questions," Langdon said.

"Our bylaws state we cannot support any candidate who does not answer yes to these questions." Family First filed papers with the Hamilton County Board of Elections to register as an official PAC in September. The group already has given some money to candidates. It gave $5,000 to Marie Irish Keaney, candidate for the Cincinnati Board of Education, and $1,000 to Republican City Council candidate Rosemary Meyer.

Langdon said the organization also gave small amounts to two Lakota School Board candidates.

He said the group has about $15,000 on hand and is still fund-raising. Langdon, an attorney in practice with Chris Finney, president of the Conservative Forum, said the group has no members as such, simply a 13-member board of directors.

Langdon said it is "easier to get things done" with a smaller group.

Family First raises money from a variety of people interested in their social issue agenda. "We are different from other groups because we are focused primarily on social issues," Langdon said.

"Some people consider these religious issues. But our PAC considers them to be extremely important to the political process, to be moral issues that can't be left out of the political process." In addition to abortion and homosexuality, the Family First questionnaire asks candidates their views on school choice and vouchers, sexually oriented businesses, the city's abortion "gag" ordinance, more police for Cincinnati and managed competition.

Family First differs from the Conservative Forum in that the Forum assists generally "conservative" candidates but doesn't make moral issues a test, Langdon, a Forum member, said. Both similarly oriented Citizens for Community Values and Right to Life are educational groups which do not directly finance and support political candidates, as Family First will, he said.

A number of Family First board members also are members of the Conservative Forum, and Langdon himself is counsel to CCV.

Finney said he is only "peripherally involved" with the new organization.

The group is not related to the Hamilton County Family and Children First Council, a group that coordinates services among the local agencies that work with at-risk children.

According to their questionnaire, the group is "committed to the election of pro-family leaders in Greater Cincinnati."

Text of fax box follows: Litmus test Family First directors quiz candidates on whether they: Support legislation to outlaw abortion. Support judges who would overturn the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade abortion rights ruling. Oppose public funding for abortion services. Oppose abortion providers and those who refer patients to abortion

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providers. Oppose legislation to provide protections in the workplace and other areas for homosexuals. Oppose government initiatives to provide "shack-up insurance" to partners of gays. Oppose government recognition of homosexual or lesbian marriages.

Memo: Text of fax box follows article Edition: Final Section: News Page: 8A Record Number: CNP101400282790031 Copyright 1997 The Cincinnati Post

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Court aside, fight still on for gay rights

The Cincinnati Post - Friday, October 24, 1997 Author: Post staff report

There "most definitely" will be an appeal of the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision Thursday upholding Cincinnati's 1993 charter amendment barring specific protections for homosexuals, vows an attorney for the Equality Foundation of Greater Cincinnati.

The effect of the decision is that Cincinnati City Council cannot adopt any legislation that would provide protection against discrimination because of somebody's sexual orientation.

"It's such a major deal, we'll do whatever's necessary," said attorney Alphonse Gerhardstein.

The Equality Foundation of Greater Cincinnati Inc., Housing Opportunities Made Equal and five individual clients may choose to appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court. Or they could make an en banc appeal - asking that all 14 justices in the Sixth U.S. Circuit consider the case, instead of the three-member panel that issued the ruling.

"You always want a second bite at the apple," Gerhardstein said. "We may generate a strong dissenting opinion, or a divided opinion" with an en banc that can strengthen the case before the high court, he said.

"We are thrilled to death," said Chris Finney, who drafted the Issue 3 ballot issue. "This is a wonderful Sixth Circuit."

In November 1993, voters approved a charter amendment prohibiting Cincinnati City Council from enacting any measure that granted protections based on sexual orientation.

Lycette Nelson, executive director of the Stonewall Cincinnati human rights organization, said the message to employers and landlords is that "it's all right to discriminate against people on the basis of their sexual orientation."

"We get calls often about people who have had problems with jobs or housing" on that basis, she said.

Mayor Roxanne Qualls called the decision "regrettable."

She and other opponents of the charter amendment said there is little difference between it and a similar Colorado gay-rights issue, which the high court struck down last year.

"The distinction between this case and the Romer vs. Evans case, that the court uses to justify its decision, strains a reasonable person's common sense," said Mayor Qualls.

"Regardless of the Sixth Circuit's decision, this community still will uphold the values of tolerance, openness to diversity and non-discrimination against any member of our community."

But Karl Kadon, assistant city solicitor representing the city on the winning side of upholding the charter amendment, was pleased with the ruling: "First, the decision represents a significant reaffirmation of the right of we the people of Cincinnati to decide how we shall be governed. Secondly, we will also not have to face the payment of up to $500,000 in legal fees" (which the city would have to pay if it lost).

Scott Greenwood, an ACLU attorney, called the ruling "outrageous." "It is a slap in the face of every lesbian, gay and bisexual, not only in Cincinnati but in the country. It ignores completely the clear direction from the Supreme

Court of the U.S. to apply equal protection of the law in an even-handed

method. .


"In some respects what the (appeals) court did is reminiscent of rogue courts in the 1950s, which refused to obey clear directions from Supreme Court decisions in desegregation cases," he said.

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Text of fax box follows: Appeals While the case is under appeal, Alphonse Gerhardstein, attorney for the Equality Foundation of Greater Cincinnati, said he does not expect Issue 3 to take effect. It has not so far during the appeal, he said. As the case's appeal moves forward, the city's Equal Employment Ordinance that provides protections to homosexual city employees can remain in effect, he said.

Memo: Text of fax box follows article Edition: Final Section: News Page: 10A Record Number: CNP102400271160127 Copyright 1997 The Cincinnati Post

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GOP bloc: No power grab for Hamilton Co. party

Cincinnati Enquirer, The (OH) - Saturday, December 11, 1999 Author: MARIE McCAIN, The Cincinnati Enquirer

Opposition candidates to give voters a choice, Alliance says


The Cincinnati Enquirer

Members of the conservative Republican bloc Pro-Family Alliance denied Friday that the group has plans to seize control of Hamilton County's Republican Party.

Comparisons, they say, to a decade-old faction that made an unsuccessful bid to take over the local GOP are far off the mark and draw attention away from the group's real purpose.

"This is not about starting a fight with(in) the Republican Party," said Chris Finney, an attorney and member of the anti-tax group Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes (COAST) that has joined the alliance. "There is no

shred of truth or a single fact that anyone in our organization wants to

. . .

revive the platform of the early 1990s.

"All we are doing is working to succeed at the ballot box and the polls. We want voters to have a choice (of Republican primary candidates)," Mr. Finney said.

His comments came Friday during a Pro-Family Alliance news conference to introduce the group's candidates in the upcoming primary.

Besides COAST, Pro-Family Alliance is composed of five conservative political organizations that collectively espouse smaller government, lower taxes, anti-abortion, anti-pornography, anti-gay rights and pro-family ideologies.

Members have balked at the party's selection of three specific candidates to make up the Statehouse ticket come the March primary.

Instead, they have endorsed opposition candidates who have proven records favoring Pro-Family Alliance's philosophies.

"This is about character and principle," said Phil Burress, a Pro-Family Alliance member and chair of Equal Rights, Not Special Rights. "If the candidates are on the right side of the issue I don't care who gets elected," he added.

Tanya Lee, a political action committee director with Ohio Right To Life, said her agency merely wanted a "fair and honest" race in March. "We want voters to have a choice," she said.

The GOP Statehouse candidates are:

Tawana Keels Simons, 32nd district. She is a board member with the Princeton City School District.

Michelle Schneider, former Madeira mayor, in the 36th district.

Steve Adams, 37th district. He is a former assistant Hamilton County prosecutor and now works in the state treasurer's office.

The Pro-Family Alliance candidates are:

James Raussen, 32nd district, a former Butler County township official who now resides in Springdale.

Charles Tassell, 36th district, a director of governmental affairs with the Greater Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky

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Apartment Association ..

Michael Gentry, 36th district, a member of the Symmes Township Board of Trustees.

Tom Brinkman Jr., 37th district, a Mount Lookout resident and founder of COAST who successfully fought against the tax levy for the Cincinnati Public Schools.

In 1990, Hamilton County Republican Party dissidents formed a group called Platform Republicans that espoused anti-abortion ideology and tried to take over the party by winning a number of precinct seats.

The group died out after winning about 130 of 1,008 precincts.

Edition: EAST Section: MET Page: 06C Record Number: cin2002090806521587 Copyright (c) The Cincinnati Enquirer. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Gannett Co., Inc. by NewsBank, inc.

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Plain Dealer, The (Cleveland, OH) - Wednesday, January 12, 2000 Author: BILL SLOAT PLAIN DEALER REPORTER

Gov. Bob Taft has quietly deleted the words "sexual orientation" from a decree banning employment bias in Ohio government, ending a 15-year-old policy that protected gays and lesbians working for state agencies.

Taft's Executive Order 99-25T was issued without fanfare at the end of August and declares his administration has a broader goal: "To ensure that all Ohio citizens have equal employment opportunity" in state jobs.

But it no longer mentions gays.

Taft's decree is a clear reversal of prior state policy, according to law school professors at Ohio State University and Case Western Reserve University. They said it marked an important setback for the gay rights movement in Ohio.

"They lost something they had, which was the full force of the governor's office behind them," said Ruth Colker, an OSU law professor. "An executive order is not quite as meaningful as a provision in a law, but it can still mean a lot."

Colker said some 12 states have laws that protect gays against discrimination. Several others have repealed similar measures after referendums.

"Almost everywhere gay rights has gone to a vote it has lost," she added. "But voluntary rescinding? I've never heard of that before."

Taft spokesman Scott Milburn said yesterday that the governor intentionally deleted the sexual preference language because he didn't want to favor any group.

"We're not going to go down a laundry list of groups," Milburn said. "Is he going to list specific groups? That's really a Pandora's box."

Milburn said Taft's philosophy is that all discrimination is wrong and the executive order was meant to set a tone.

"Discrimination is bad. Period. We're not going to do it," Millburn said. "He's opposed to discrimination against any person for any reason. You get ahead in the Taft administration based on merit."

The executive order is posted on the Internet site of the Ohio Department of Administrative Services, which is responsible for state personnel:

Officials with gay rights groups across the state said yesterday they had suffered a major setback. They said efforts to get the governor to change his mind had failed.

"It rolls back years of state policy," said Jeff Redfield, executive director of the Stonewall Community Center in Columbus. "It takes away the fact that there was protection for state employees. And now there isn't any."

Doreen Cudnik, executive director of Stonewall Cincinnati, said Taft had replaced specific protection for gays with "a broadly worded, say-nothing policy. By going out of his way to remove sexual orientation from his order, Taft was sending a message."

Chris Finney, a lawyer who helped lead the campaign to repeal Cincinnati's gay rights law, said Taft did the right thing. "I certainly think it's a bold and courageous move on the part of the governor," he said.

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Finney called homosexual activity "a behavior that many people find deeply offensive."

Ohio's two prior governors, Democrat Richard F. Celeste and George V. Voinovich, a Republican now serving in the U.S. Senate, included gays in their anti-discrimination orders. Celeste first issued the order in 1984 and Voinovich continued it during his eight years in Columbus.

The order expired on Voinovich's final day in office. When it was renewed, Taft omitted sexual orientation from the protected list.

Although Taft's new policy dropped all references to sexual orientation, it does state that "there are many other groups and classifications of persons that could be subject to discrimination." However, it does not try to define who they are.

Sharona Hoffman, a CWRU law school professor and expert in employment law, said Taft's new policy put the state government in line with state and federal civil rights measures.

"Sexual orientation is not a protected class, so he's consistent with federal law," said Hoffman, a former senior trial lawyer with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission who joined the CWRU faculty six months ago.

Hoffman said she viewed Taft's order as toothless for gays.

"He's replaced the specific language that protected them with totally meaningless language," she said. "It doesn't have any teeth. His order is made to look like he's trying to say something, but it doesn't say anything."

Memo: E-mail:

Phone: (513) 631-4125

Edition: FINAL / ALL Section: NATIONAL Page: 1A Record Number: 10512157 Copyright 2000, 2002 The Plain Dealer. All Rights Reserved. Used by NewsBank with Permission.

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Council votes today on hate ordinance

Cincinnati Enquirer, The (OH) - Wednesday, February 5, 2003 Author: Gregory Korte, STAFF

By Gregory Korte

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Cincinnati City Council's Law Committee heard three hours of testimony and debate about a proposal to add sexual orientation to the city's hate crime law Tuesday, sending the ordinance to the full council for a vote today.

Four council members have publicly backed the measure: co-sponsors John Cranley and David Crowley, David Pepper and Jim Tarbell. Five votes are needed for passage.

Mayor Charlie Luken has said he'll sign the ordinance if it gets to him.

Though the ordinance was inspired by the Dec. 31 death of Gregory Beauchamp, who police think was murdered because he was gay, the law would not affect felonies.

Instead, the law would add sexual orientation, gender, age and disability status to the list of hate-motivated misdemeanors that are punishable by up to six months in jail.

Most controversial is sexual orientation. The vote will likely rekindle the 10-year-old debate over gay rights in Cincinnati, where an amendment to the city's charter forbids City Council from passing any law giving "protected class" status based on sexual orientation.

"Until Article XII is removed, this change in the city's hate crime law will at least provide some relief to those discriminated-against citizens of our city," said Harold Porter, co-chairman of Citizens to Restore Fairness, a nascent committee working to repeal the charter amendment.

Opponents of the proposed hate crime law said it shows contempt for the 62 percent of voters who approved that amendment as Issue 3 in 1993. They said they would sue if City Council passes the law. "I'm here to tell you two things," said Phil Burress of Citizens for Community Values.

"No. 1, if you pass this ordinance, you will be sued. No. 2, if you pass this ordinance, there will be a vote by the electorate in November, and it will not be a symbolic gesture."

But Tuesday's battle clearly belonged to supporters of the law, who outnumbered those against, 53 to six.

Support came from an array of liberal political groups and human rights activists, including feminists, advocates for the disabled, mainstream Protestant churches and a Jesuit brother.

Former mayor and congressman David Mann and former U.S. Attorney Sharon Zealey were among those who supported the ordinance Tuesday. Jack Rouse, president of a downtown design and planning firm, said Cincinnati needs to project a more tolerant image if it's going to lure jobs and high-skilled workers.

"On one level, this is the right thing to do for human dignity. On another, more pragmatic level, it's the smart thing to do for economic development," he said.

Supporters of the ordinance admitted there's little statistical evidence of hate crimes based on sexual orientation. But they offered anecdotal evidence:

Andy Ruffner of Mount Lookout told the story of a neighbor - a single woman - whose front lawn had the word "dyke" written in herbicide. He said the woman was not a lesbian.

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John Freie of Delhi Township said that just Monday night, while leaving a bar across from the Aronoff Center for the Arts, he was grabbed by the neck and called "faggot" 30 times.

Monique Hoeflinger and Nancy Smith of Clifton told of harassing phone calls, slashed car tires and attempted break-ins of their home. An officer said it looked like a clear-cut case of harassment, and said an ex-boyfriend was likely to blame. They were too rattled to tell him that they had no ex-boyfriends.

Such incidents don't just victimize the targets of the crime, gay rights activists said. They can terrorize an entire community.

They cited 2000 FBI statistics showing that crimes motivated by a bias related to sexual orientation are the third most common form of hate crimes. (Racial motivation made up 54 percent religion, 18 percent and sexual orientation, 16 percent.)

Opponents said the law wasn't necessary because harassment, menacing and vandalism are already against the law.

"Violence is violence," said Sam Malone, president of the Bond Hill Community Council.

Conservative activist Christopher Finney said City Council was making a mockery out of the will of the voters.

"It's amazing to me, after all the turmoil this city has been through, that this City Council would drag this city through an issue that's already been decided," he said.

The Cincinnati Enquirer/GLENN HARTONG

Cutline: Victoria Brooks, who claims to have suffered discrimination and harassment because of her sexual orientation, shows a picture of her children to the Law and Public Safety Committee at City Hall on Tuesday afternoon.

Cutline: Phil Burress, Citizens for Community Values president, offered this public comment at Tuesday's hearing: "If you pass this ordinance, you will be sued."

Edition: Final Section: Metro Page: 1C Record Number: cin2003020517520675 Copyright (c) The Cincinnati Enquirer. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Gannett Co., Inc. by NewsBank, inc.

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Rights activists prepare campaign

Cincinnati Enquirer, The (OH) - Monday, February 17, 2003 Author: Dan Klepal, STAFF

They want repeal of city's Article XII

By Dan Klepal

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Ten years after Cincinnati voters overwhelmingly voted to prohibit gays and lesbians from receiving protection from discrimination under the city's laws, several groups in the Queen City are ready to ask voters for a recount.

One group, called Citizens to Restore Fairness, was created specifically to work for the repeal of Article XII, the 1993 amendment to the city's charter.

Human-rights activists believe there has been a sea change in attitude toward gays and lesbians over the decade since Article XII passed with 62 percent of the vote.

To place the issue again on a ballot, those activists will have to collect about 9,000 signatures or persuade a majority of Cincinnati City Council to put the issue up for a vote.

The push has been years in the making, but comes after Cincinnati City Council's Feb. 5 vote to beef up its hate-crimes ordinance to include sexual orientation.

Activists say that vote was just a battle won in a larger war to repeal Article XII. Rev. Dr. Harold Porter, co-chairman of Citizens To Restore Fairness, wouldn't say if petitions are already being circulated or when exactly the issue will reappear on ballots. He would say only that the time is near.

"Article XII is an embarrassment to our city and we believe a large majority want it repealed," Porter said. "Our campaign plan is being finalized now."

Citizens To Restore Fairness has a 14-member board of directors that includes former P&G executive Lynwood Battle and former U.S. Attorney Sharon Zealey. Cincinnati Councilman David Crowley advises the committee.

While there have been signals in conservative Cincinnati's business, religious and public realm that tolerance of gay and lesbian people has improved, a more definitive analysis will be unveiled in about two weeks.

That study, undertaken in early 2002 by the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ), measures the impact of Article XII on the city's economic, social and civic life. It also examined the city's business, religious and social institutions to see if attitudes have changed since Article XII was passed.

The Greater Cincinnati Convention and Visitor's Bureau, Cincinnatus Association, Archdiocese of Cincinnati and Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio helped pay for the study, along with other organizations.

Chip Harrod, executive director of the NCCJ, declined to say how the study was conducted or other specifics about it. But he said the study shows that the time is ripe for a challenge to Article XII.

"We are of the opinion that the community is at a different place 10 years later," Mr. Harrod said. "The community is more welcoming, more knowledgeable and more accepting."

Seeds of change

Some signs of that change:

Two Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Cincinnati - Procter & Gamble and Federated Department Stores - now extend benefits to same-sex partners and include sexual orientation in their equal employment opportunity policies.

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The 19-county Archdiocese of Cincinnati launched a ministry to lesbians and gays in 1999. In September, it hosted a conference in Blue Ash for the National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian and Gay Ministries. The conference was held outside of Cincinnati's city limits because of Article XII.

The Greater Cincinnati Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender News lists 20 "supportive" churches on its Web site.

More than 4,000 people attended the 2002 GLBT Pride Parade and Music Festival last year, making it the largest in the city's history. Another 3,500 attended Pride Night 2002 at Paramount's Kings Island, the largest crowd in the event's six-year history.

Last March, more than 1,200 singers from about 30 choirs nationwide came to Cincinnati to perform at the Aronoff Center during the GALA Choruses festival and many events were sold out. GALA is an international gay choral organization.

Across the Ohio River, Covington has proposed an ordinance that would extend the city's non-discrimination clause to include sexual orientation.

Councilman Crowley, who led the effort to expand Cincinnati's hate crimes ordinance, said the groups should not count on council to place Article XII back on ballots.

"The wise thinking would be to use a petition drive to build a base of support and to educate the public," Crowley said.

"The anti groups have the ability to raise a lot of money and get out a big group of supporters."

Cincinnati attorney Scott Knox, a board member of Citizens to Restore Fairness, said the large attendance at gay festivals is a clear indicator of change.

"More and more people are coming out," Knox said. "It's not us-them anymore. Those gays are peoples' brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles that they love. You also see more companies extending benefits to partners. They realize that a good worker is a good worker, regardless of who they love."

That rings true at P&G, said Ed Offshack, who founded a group called GABLE - Gay, Bisexual, Lesbian Employees at P&G - to lobby management for more inclusion of gay issues.

He said corporate culture at P&G has changed in the last decade. In addition to offering benefits to domestic partners, the company includes gays and lesbians in their programs teaching workplace sensitivity.

"If you have a company trying to create and sell products to all people, then you need all kinds of people in the workplace," Mr. Offshack said. "P&G recognizes that. Those were big changes that clearly show the environment here is one of inclusion."

Not everyone fighting for gay rights is convinced the city has had a change of attitude in the last 10 years.

Victor P. Fabro, a board member of the gay rights group Stonewall Cincinnati, said the only change he sees a decade after Article XII's passage is that we're all "10 years older."

The city's new law makes it a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail, to harass, menace or deface someone's property because of his or her sexual orientation, age or disability. The law, first passed in 1995, already applied to crimes motivated by hatred based on race, color, national origin or religion.

Although clearly outnumbered at a recent public hearing on the new law, a handful of opponents lined up against council's action, threatening to sue if council passed the addition to Cincinnati's hate crimes law.

Phil Burress of Citizens for Community Values said those council members voting in favor of the expanded law would pay for their votes on Election Day. Chris Finney, a lawyer for the conservative anti-tax group Citizens Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes, told council that expanding the hate crimes law would make a mockery of the 1993 vote.

"It's amazing to me, after all the turmoil this city has been through, that this City Council would drag this city through an issue that's already been decided," he said.

The city has managed to take at least one step backward for every two steps forward, said David Herriman, interim

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president of One Human Family, a human rights group that splitfrom Stonewall Cincinnati after that group supported a boycott against the city over racial discrimination.

Herriman also sits on the board of directors for major arts organizations such as Playhouse in the Park, the Cincinnati Ballet and the Community Arts Center. He said the city isn't better off than it was 10 years ago, and it's still unclear if attitudes about gays and lesbians are more progressive.

"We have lost a lot of retail, we have overspent ourselves on sports, we have had greater racial division in our community," Herriman said. "A lot of people have left Cincinnati, being the only city in the U.S. officially committed to bigotry.

"The country has changed in its attitude toward gays, (but) I think that has very little to do with the attitude in Cincinnati," Herriman said.

Edition: Final Section: News Page: 1A Record Number: cin2003021714472317 Copyright (c) The Cincinnati Enquirer. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Gannett Co., Inc. by NewsBank, inc.

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Cincinnati Post, The (OH) - Wednesday, April 30, 2003 Author: Mike Rutledge, Post staff reporter

Minutes after the Covington City Commission approved an expanded human rights law Tuesday, gay rights activists outside the building were discussing how they could use the Kentucky victory to repeal a 10-year-old anti-gay provision in Cincinnati's city charter.

Gary Wright of Walnut Hills, co-chairman of Citizens to Restore Fairness, which aims to reverse Cincinnati's law, said the group has already started collecting signatures to get the issue on the ballot in November 2004.

"We're changing minds starting today,'' Wright said. "We need 9,000 good signatures to be on the ballot."

Wright said the unanimous passage of the Covington ordinance -- which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and other factors -- shows the gay community on both sides of the Ohio River has become more politically active."You can feel that the gay community in Cincinnati is ready to work on this,'' Wright said as he and other supporters of Covington's ordinance milled outside the commission's chambers. "And they may not have been two years ago. It's ready. We're ready."

Gays are also encouraged by Cincinnati's decision in February to expand the city's hate-crimes ordinance to include sexual orientation, a move prompted by the death of a man shot by a person who yelled anti-gay slurs.

But Chris Finney, a Cincinnati lawyer and member of Equal Rights Not Special Rights, which led the fight for Issue 3, was not fretting Tuesday night about the prospect of Issue 3 being overturned.

Gay activists have discussed such an effort for years, he said, and "we've prevailed before."

"The bottom line is the people of Cincinnati decided not to go with a radical agenda," Finney said. The issue then was whether "we wanted council meddling in these kinds of affairs, and we decided not."

Issue 3, which prohibits City Council from passing any laws that shield gays and lesbians from discrimination, passed by a 2-to-1 margin in 1993 after a divisive community debate, a decision later upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

But Wright says it's a different atmosphere now.

"Times are different. Things have changed," Wright said. "More companies have included sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policies. Right here, Procter & Gamble, Federated (Department Stores) both protect their own employees against discrimination. Why shouldn't the city guarantee that for everybody?"

In Covington, at least two of the five city commission members initially appeared to lean against the human rights ordinance. Both were swayed by public debate and modifications that were made to the ordinance, and the legislation was approved 5-0.

"It's so clear that when you explain to people that it really is about equal rights and not special rights, people get it," Wright said.

When Cincinnati voters overwhelmingly approved Issue 3, which prohibited Cincinnati City Council from passing any laws that shield gays and lesbians from discrimination, Wright believes the voters were unduly swayed by the argument that such laws give gays "special rights."

"That old saw just isn't going to play anymore, and that's a very, very good thing," he said.

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"For Cincinnati, now there's a light on this side of the river, on the southern bank of the Ohio, that says here's a model for how our city should be. Covington should be very proud of that."

In order to overturn Issue 3, which became Article 12 of Cincinnati's charter, gays and lesbians will need to make their case, something they didn't do sufficiently before, Wright said.

He said the potential argument is simple: "Our city is the only city in the nation that has a law that says you can't protect people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. How do you feel about that?

That's a difficult argument to counter, acknowledged David Miller, vice president of Citizens for Community Values, a group based in Sharonville that works nationally on moral issues.

Miller says gays are seeking special rights that trump the free speech and religious freedom of others, including business people and landlords.

Edition: Final Section: News Page: A1 Record Number: 0305010044 Copyright (c) 2003 The Cincinnati Post

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Toss Issue 3? Courts ruled in its favor Cincinnati Enquirer, The (OH) - Thursday, February 12, 2004 Author: Peter Bronson, STAFF

By Peter Bronson

Custer didn't ask for a rematch. McGovern didn't demand a recount. So why is Cincinnati Mayor Charlie Luken calling for a repeal of Issue 3, passed by 62 percent of voters in 1993?

At first I thought it was a clever strategy to change the subject at City Hall. Instead of endless rhetorical masochism about racism, they could discuss something new - homophobia.

But that's not it. The mayor says Cincinnati looks intolerant. Here's what he said in his State of the City speech last week: "It stands as a symbol that Cincinnati is willing to tolerate discrimination for one class of our citizens." And, "What is at issue now, as then, is discrimination, pure and simple."

I don't think Cincinnati is any more intolerant than any city except San Francisco, where tolerance has mutated into civic suicide.

And Issue 3 is not "discrimination, pure and simple."

But don't take my word for it. Cincinnati spent five years in court to find out. In 1995 the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals said Issue 3 (Article XII in the Charter) is not discriminatory, and "is not an irrational measure fashioned only to harm an unpopular segment of the population."

"The language of the Cincinnati Charter Amendment, read in its full context, merely prevented homosexuals, as homosexuals, from obtaining special privileges and preferences (such as affirmative action preferences or the legally sanctioned power to force employers, landlords, and merchants to transact business with them) from the City."

Former Deputy Cincinnati Solicitor Karl Kadon, who argued the case for the city all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, said, "Issue 3 was validated by the Supreme Court because what it really did was affirm the constitutionally protected proposition that every one of us is entitled to equal treatment under the law."

A lot has changed since 1993. Some big corporations now side with repeal to avoid offending diversity committees and gay customers. But the wind shift in elite opinions has not swayed ordinary voters. Polls show support for Issue 3 is just as strong as it was in 1993.

"I don't see any changes that indicate we should revisit this issue this year," said Chris Finney, a Hyde Park lawyer who worked to pass Issue 3 in 1993.

For people like gay-rights activist and businessman David Harriman, "Luken was right on."

"Article XII sets gays into a special class and denies them the right to petition their government to redress grievances," he says. "And why must our city reinforce its reputation for prejudice?

"Keep bashing us and I and many other productive citizens are out of here."

Luken said this week that reaction to his speech has been very positive. "I do not call names. I did not say people who disagree with me are intolerant."

But some who oppose gay rights - often for religious reasons - took it that way. "The attitude is if you don't

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agree, you hate and you're evil," Finney said.

Issue 3 was a response to a gay-rights ordinance that had civil and criminal penalties, Finney said. "Who is really intolerant? Who was trying to put whom in jail and seize property?"

Let's stipulate that intolerance is a matter of opinion. But the opinion that counts came from the courts - and it says Issue 3 is not discrimination.

There's no reason for a rematch at gay-rights Waterloo.

E-mail or call 768-8301.

Edition: West Section: Metro Page: 2C Record Number: cin2004021215521605 Copyright (c) The Cincinnati Enquirer. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Gannett Co., Inc. by NewsBank, inc.

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Cincinnati Post, The (OH) - Thursday, September 16, 2004

In The Post's article on Aug. 31 concerning City Council's action to correct the ballot language on the repeal of Article XII, Christopher Finney was quoted as saying that the description of Article XII as prohibiting the city from protecting people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation was "editorializing and attempted to persuade voters, frankly, in a dishonest way."

Nothing could be further from the truth. Of course Article XII prohibits the city from protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination, and that characterization of the law is accurate. Who says so? Phil Burress and the people, including Finney, who are responsible for this horribly written, deceptive and divisive law. The same people who are now saying that this is not about discrimination.

Burress and his legal cronies have gone so far as to argue that Article XII is so sweeping in its prohibition of protection from discrimination that it even prevents the city from punishing anti-gay hate crimes.

Here is what they said in a filing last year in front of Judge Norbert A. Nadel protesting a law that punishes anti-gay hate crimes in the city:

"By its explicit terms, therefore, Article XII prohibits the passage or enforcement by the City of any nondiscrimination law which would extend protection to persons based on their homosexual status.

"There is no portion, however, of Article XII which draws the distinction between various sorts of homosexual nondiscrimination laws in the manner the city now asserts. Article XII prohibits all such nondiscrimination policies, without any restrictions limiting its prohibitive reach to only certain nondiscrimination laws."

This court filing contains at least 15 references to discrimination, and says straight out that the impetus for Article XII was the City Human Rights law and a second law that also prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. A law that was intended to overturn nondiscrimination laws is of course about discrimination.

What story about Article XII you hear from Burress, the plaintiff in the lawsuit filed with Judge Nadel and their lawyers seems to depend on in which courtroom they appear and which of the two contradictory "truths" about Article XII they wish to tell.

We and they both know that the people of Cincinnati believe that discriminatbn against gays is wrong, and that anti-gay hate crimes should not be tolerated. Article XII is about discrimination, and it is out of touch with where Cincinnati is today.

We want this discussion to be held in public, in the plain light of day, so that Burress and the lawyers cannot continue to try hide the fact that Article XII is about discrimination in legalese.

That they are also trying to tell two different stories about Article XII should make people wonder what regard they have for honesty and the truth, and what their real agenda is.

Gary Wright


Citizens to Restore Fairness Memo: Letters

Edition: Final Section: Editorial Page: A13 Record Number: 0409170022 Copyright (c) 2004 The Cincinnati Post

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Cincinnati Post, The (OH) - Tuesday, August 31, 2004 Author: Kevin Osborne, Post staff reporter

Supporters of a campaign to repeal Article XII of Cincinnati's charter agreed Monday to the removal of the words "discrimination" and "sexual orientation" from the language that will appear on the Nov. 2 ballot.

Passed in 1993, Article XII prohibits City Council from enacting or enforcing any measure that gives "minority or protected status, quota preference or other preferential treatment" to homosexual and bisexual people.

The action to remove the references to "discrimination" and "sexual orientation" from the ballot issue was a compromise by Citizens to Restore Fairness to avoid a lengthy court battle with repeal opponents that might have prevented a vote this fall.

Repeal opponents -- led by the group Equal Rights No Special Rights -- said the initial ballot language was misleading and inaccurate because the disputed words don't actually appear in Article XII.

Opponents had filed a legal challenge in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court seeking an injunction to keep the repeal off the ballot. They conceded the latest change now renders that case moot.

Although on its summer break, Cincinnati City Council held a brief emergency meeting Monday afternoon to formally change the ballot wording, based on the requests of the two sides.

Council had to act by Thursday to meet the deadline for placing the revised issue on the ballot. "This is exactly what we were asking for," said Christopher Finney, an attorney for repeal opponents. "We would call it a complete capitulation."

The repeal's original wording stated: "Shall the charter of the city of Cincinnati be amended to repeal Article XII, which prohibits the city from protecting people from discrimination based on sexual orientation?" The revised wording, however, removes the clause after the comma.

"The other language was editorializing and attempted to persuade voters, frankly, in a dishonest way," Finney said. "This is more straightforward."

Repeal supporters said it was more important to get the issue before voters than debate the merits of the wording.

"We feel the most appropriate place for a discussion on this is at the ballot box, not hidden away in a courtroom," said Justin Turner, a spokesman for Citizens to Restore Fairness. "Make no mistake about it, Article XII does allow discrimination."

Supporters concede the change may make explaining the issue to the public more difficult, and held an emergency briefing Monday with volunteers.

"This change, however, creates urgency in our community to make sure that we explain in a clear way that Article XII allows discrimination against gay people in Cincinnati," the briefing's e-mail said. "Our opposition is trying to confuse voters, and it is our responsibility to educate them."

Repeal supporters said Article XII prevents gays and lesbians from seeking protection against discrimination and, in effect, gives the city's approval to anti-gay attitudes. No other category of citizen is specifically prohibited from seeking redress from their government, they said.

Those who do not want Article XII repealed said that the law doesn't condone discrimination, it merely prohibits conferring minority status on people based on their sexual behavior.

Sexual conduct is a behavioral characteristic that is changeable, not an immutable trait that is subject to legal

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protection, repeal opponents said.

City Council voted 7-1 to change the ballot issue's wording, with Republican Sam Malone as the sole dissenter.

Council's other GOP member, Pat DeWine, was absent because he was attending the Republican National Convention.

Malone said he was opposed to the new language because it contained the word "discrimination," apparently unaware it had been removed.

Malone -- who is African-American and among the leaders of the group opposing the repeal -- said he dislikes the supporters calling it a civil rights issue.

"Civil rights encompasses all kinds of minorities, it encompasses women, it encompasses Hispanics," Malone said. "You can look at those people or look at blacks and tell they're a minority. I don't know how you can look at someone and tell they're gay.

"In the past, those minorities have been denied the right to own property or denied the right to vote. I've never known homosexuals to be denied those rights. In terms of discrimination, I just don't see it."

Turner sharply disagreed: "In -- Cincinnati, you can be fired from a job or kicked out of a house just for being gay. That is what discrimination is all about. They're trying to confuse the issue with divisive tactics."

Edition: Final Section: News Page: A1 Record Number: 0409010006 Copyright (c) 2004 The Cincinnati Post



12:57 PM

Page 1


Some people are selling the idea that Article XII has hurt Cincinnati’s economy. Don’t buy the lie.


I ’m

Phil Heimlich. If anything were



economy, you know I’d be on it in a







hurt our


heartbeat. So when

people say that Article

economy I wanted to know how much and why. That’s why I commissioned and led the effort to review every major economic study through 2002 on the loss of convention business and tourism in Cincinnati. Here’s what I found: Article XII had NO proven negative impact. None of the studies pointed to Article XII as a factor in lost convention business. In fact, CVB records from 1996-97 - a full three years after Cincinnati citizens passed Article XII - show only 1 out of 224 conventions lost even mentioned Article XII. Named instead were the center’s size, CVB leadership,

the Comair strike, even the Reds! The bottom line?

Article XII was not a factor in lost convention business.

It’s also interesting to note that in the first four years after Article XII was passed, CVB’s annual gross revenue increased by more than $1.2 million* I’ve been a hawk on the city’s budget for years, and I’ll take that kind of hurt any day!

Friends, the fact is that the conventions which don’t come to Cincinnati do base their decisions on practicality, not on sexual politics. We’ll see a better economy when we do a better job of reducing crime, and keeping City Council focused on jobs. Until then, a word of advice on Cincinnati’s economy: Those pushing Issue 3 and special rights might quote big numbers, but they just don’t add up.

Don’t buy the lie about Article XII.

Vote NO on Issue 3.

To download a copy of Commissioner Heimlich’s economic analysis, visit

“The bottom line on Article XII? There’s little evidence that its ever hurt our city’s economy. In fact, the CVB’s own documents show that Article XII is not even listed as a category for lost convention business! It’s clear Issue 3 is not about

economics, it’s about special rights. That’s why I’m

Hamilton County Commissioner Phil Heimlich

AGAINST Issue 3'.'




Paid for by Focus on the Family Cincinnati Committee, Tom Minnery, Treasurer, 8605 Explorer Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80920

*SOURCE: City of Cincinnati Department of Finance - Accounts and Audits

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5 ex-mayors join to help preserve tax

Cincinnati Enquirer, The (OH) - Friday, October 28, 2005 Author: Gregory Korte Enquirer staff writer


Cincinnati may have more living former mayors than any other city its size in the country, and five of them are backing an effort to keep the city's property tax.

Former mayors Gene Ruehlmann, Bobbie Sterne, David Mann, Arn Bortz and Roxanne Qualls are honorary co-chairs of the union-backed effort to defeat Issue 9, which would phase out the city's property tax by 2014.

It's a strategy cooked up by Brooke Hill, the political strategist and aide to Mayor Charlie Luken, in an effort to raise the group's profile and gravitas.

The mayors say eliminating the property tax could hurt the city's bond rating, because bond buyers want to know the city can raise taxes in a financial pinch.

Qualls questioned the need for a charter amendment, and said the idea that voters simply vote for anti-tax council members is "patronizing."

Anti-tax activists pushing Issue 9 say they don't have the resources to counter the mayors' campaign, but hope voters will see their self-interest in cutting their taxes and controlling city spending.

The mayors, said pro-Issue 9 leader Christopher P. Finney, are "addicted to spending."

PEPPER'S TEAM: Mayoral candidate David Pepper says this year's crop of City Council candidates is one of the most talented and qualified in recent history. And so he says The Enquirer left a couple of names off the list when it named his "dream team" of City Council members.

Pepper campaign manager Greg Landsman said the list should have included other good candidates - like Charterite Chris Bortz and Democrat Samantha Herd - as candidates he's looking forward to working with.

"There are literally more than nine people who, if we could get them elected, would be great for the city," Pepper said. "If you get two or three (challengers), in addition to some of the incumbents, we've got a great chance."

His opponent, Mark Mallory, has declined to name his "dream team," saying he'll work with any group the voters send to City Hall.

EQUALITY TICKET: Equality Cincinnati, the gay rights group that emerged as the successor to last year's effort to repeal Cincinnati's Article XII, has endorsed nine candidates for Cincinnati City Council: Democrats Eve Bolton, Laketa Cole, John Cranley, David Crowley, Samantha Herd, Damon Lynch III and Wendell P. Young; Charterites Christopher Smitherman and Nick Spencer.

For school board, the group likes Susan Cranley, Catherine Ingram, Eileen Cooper Reed and Harriet Russell.

And for Cincinnati mayor? Either candidate is fine by them.

MALONE RESPONSE: Republican Councilman Sam Malone, who served as chairman of the group that fought to keep Article XII in the charter last year, said he was not responsible for fund-raising and should not have been named in an Ohio Elections Commission complaint filed against the group Thursday.

"I served on the committee and lent my name to the campaign because I believed in the campaign, and in keeping Article XII on the books," he said in a statement through his chief of staff. "I had nothing to do with the internal

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operations and truly believe the people at Citizens for Community Values will always do their jobs with dignity, integrity and professionalism."

Malone's group, the Equal Rights Not Special Rights Committee, took almost $1.2 million from Citizens for Community Values. Equality Cincinnati says in its complaint that the contributions illegally hid the true donors to the campaign, an allegation CCV denies.

Article XII, repealed last year, banned City Council from passing a gay rights ordinance.

Visit the Enquirer's Cincinnati Politics blog at

Edition: Final Section: Metro Page: 2B Record Number: cin92072189 Copyright (c) The Cincinnati Enquirer. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Gannett Co., Inc. by NewsBank, inc.

Hems » Articles » News » News » TJeivs: We j-femly Knew Ye

Wednesday, December i&jlO05-

News: We Hardly Knew Ye



By Stephanie Dunlap

says gays


him down,






Former Cincinnati City Councilman Christopher Smitherrnan says his only real regret is not being confrontational enough.

Acknowledging the seeming absurdity of that statement, a relaxed Smithennan smiles broadly in the colorful Walnut Hills office where he and a partner run a financial planning business. He s returned to working there full time since the Nov. 8 election cost the controversial first-term councilman his City Hall office.

Smithernian drew fire early in his term for dressing down Police Chief Thomas Streicher in council chambers. After that, he seemed to grow more embattled. Though the citys policing practices were his frequent target, he also spoke often about racism, economic exclusion and political and social disenfranchisement throughout the city.

But unlike some politicians. Smithennan hardly ever hauled God into chambers -- until his f nal address as a councilman, when he spoke openly about his faith and said there were many times that God beat me up bad for what he d said that day in council.

,'fie Vear In RevieiA

There'were times when I left chambers that I didnt say what was in my heart." Smitherrnan says. 1 didnt say it the way I should have said it. meaning I played politics. You think I m delivering it hard, and I m really not. God had asked me to deliver it much harder.

'Damn Cincinnati'

He believes his reputation for being confrontational has more to do with his skin than his tactics.

"Black men standing up about anything is a confrontation in America. Smithennan says. V.'hite men on the floor of council can use any language they want to use as they re talking to anybody."






Digital Version [page by page]

He singles out Councilman John Cranleys outbursts and the folksy rhetoric of former Councilman Pat DeWine. now a Hamilton County Commissioner, who had called city workers "silly" and "stupid.

Double standards apply to some people, according to Smithennan. Assertive women, for example, arent considered intelligent or good businesspersons.

They're viewed as bitches." he says. "African-American men are the same way. I can the intelligent. There's noway.'

A high-profile constituent once advised Smitheniiantc hide his intelligence on the floor of council to make white people feel more comfortable, he says.

He often speaks about an institutional racism thats sometimes unconscious and sometimes blatant. During his two years on council he caught a lotofflakforthatand alienated many of the white voters who in 2003 had elected him to

office on his first try.

Smithernian thinks it was simply easier to blame him for bringing the subject up than to deal with the issue itself.

"I went down there and told the truth about what I saw." he says.

Smithernian also believes he lost because African Americans and other disenfranchised people for whom he advocated didnt go to the polls, and those who did go dont know how to vote.

They believe you have to vote for nine people for city council," he said. 'Other people clearly know. Why do we keep two Republican seats on the floor of council if there arent people out there who are just voting for two people?"

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He says his message got lost, especially when it was filtered through the media. Here his wrath turns, as it often does. toward conservative talk-radio station YVLW (700 AM) and Tfie Cincinnati Enquirer. He s still angry at the reaming he got from them when too of his four young sons testified to city council in support of his unsuccessful motion to ban police use ofTasers on children younger than 11.

Smitherman says he never pushed his sons to testify. They're Montessori students who overheard him talking to his wife. Pamela, and asked to speak before council as theyd often seen others do.

Damn Cincinnati for getting in my business, of trying to even question how that evolved in my house, he says. 1 refuse to let this broad community communicate to imethat my children can't come down and engage the political process. That's the arrogance. That's the racism."

As he did throughout his council term. Smitherman continues to pick up trash once a month in various neighborhoods. He calls it a 'ministry'"that allows him to find outwhats going on in the street, particularly with young men on the corners. He recalls one very early morning when he wondered what he was doing spearing garbage and thought. "Nobody gives a damn. These people dont care."

Listen to me: These people dontcare." "he says. This was the devil in my head trying to get me off track. You see. when you go out and do Gods work, you just do God's work. You dont look for fame, you don t look for accolades. You just do God's work."

Smitherman calls himself a recovering Catholic" who 15 years ago decided he didnt need an intermediary to have a relationship with God. He and his family are now members of Gaines United Methodist Church.

He says it was God who called him to charter buses to New Orleans to bring back 17 people left homeless by Hurricane Katrina. a move criticized by many, including CrfySeat, as disorganized and self-serving. He makes it clear lie has no use for any critics otherthan God. But he doesntthinkhe's infallible.

"I'm not perfect, he says. 1 drink beer. I cuss. I dont come off-and I never want to come off-as this Boy Scout, because I am not. I drink from the well of sin like everybody else does.

He says his spiritual morality is why he couldntvoteto require panhandlers to register and why he supported the successful repeal of anti-gay Article 12.

'Something sick'

That leads him to the biggest disappointment of his re-election campaign: the failure of the

gay white community to return

the favor. Smitherman says he traded a lot of political capital to support the repeal of Article 12. an unpopular issue with his African-American base.

But he hasntseen the gay community support Roger Owensby Sr.'s campaign to get justice for his son. an unarmed man who died in police custody in 2000. Nordidtheylend meaningful support to his re-election campaign. Smitherman says.

'.'V'hen the repeal of Article 12 happened (they said; vYe need to be on the Buzz (WDFJZ, 1230 AM), we need to be on WCIN. we need to be on 1320. we need to be at every church everywhere, so we know that you know where the churches are, we knowthatyou know where the radio stations are. Smitherman says. But when one of their biggest advocates is

up for re-election and then they're reading The Enquirer-

thai maligned their community, that doesnt support them - and

then you believe what you read in The Enquirer about me, Bwte's something sick about you."

He says the gay community must address racism within its ranks, which contributes to a rift with the African-American community.

They, meaning the gay community, take no responsibility for that disconnection." Smitherman says. 'They just say. The black community is homophobic, not We're just adding to the broken relationship by taking and not giving.'"

He concedes that racism can flow both-many-ways.

Ifyye look at it from our own individual perspectives. I thinkthatwe can drown in this craziness. he says. "If we look at it in the broad picture, which I have to stop and do like everybody else, and I ask myself. Are the opportunities equal. broadly?'And the ans~weris no."

He often draws his points back to councils financial decisions and racism in the form of perpetuated economic disparities.

"My focus on council was money." he says. "And I see 07 to 100 percent of this money going to the white community. And then on the same side of that. I hear white men saying, We want to lock everybody up. We want to build more jails. We want to get rid of Section 8 housing. Why are those people moving into my neighborhood? Wfiy are they so poor7"

But when financial deals come through council. African Americans dont get a proportionate share, he says.

When I say council supports institutional racism, that's how they do it." Smitherman says. They're not interested. because their friends are the ones making the contributions to the elected officials.

Even city employees are subject to this systemic racism. Smitherman says. He says that, during his council stint, about three dozen African-American workers from every city department, with the exception of the parks department, came to him seeking an advocate or at least an ear sympathetic to their inequitable treatment.

For now Smitherman s next political step is financing the setup of a political action committee that will "make no bones

about advocating tor the interests otAtn can-Am en can people on the local, state and rational level. Ihetirsttocus will be Ohio's 2006 gubernatorial race.

But he doesntyet know if he'll run again for office.

I wouldnt rule it out.

he says.




a longand

healthy life!

Smithemian admits he didnt always hit his marks as a councilman. But he refuses to take full creditforthe bad rap he got.

What HI tell you is that my mistakes on council, as I make mistakes here in my practice, were illuminated much greater than my colleagues were illuminated, he says. "I refuse to be defined by that illumination."©


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In your face? Anti-tax group raises its hand

Cincinnati Enquirer, The (OH) - Monday, January 29, 2007 Author: Kimball Perry

COAST active in local politics

They're few but loud, conservative and proud.

For nine years now, the group has harangued politicians - especially those from their own Republican Party. They've helped shape political policy, elect like-minded Republicans and attacked those who don't agree with them.

But if the last election is any indication, COAST - the Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes - may not be the power they once were.

Their hero, Phil Heimlich, was ousted in the Nov. 7 election even though he was an incumbent Republican who set fundraising records in a predominantly GOP county.

Just two of the seven candidates COAST endorsed last fall won.

The politician COAST most loathes, Congresswoman Jean Schmidt, won despite the group's efforts to unseat her.

"The people who don't like us are the people who don't want any opposition to taking money out of my pocket and spending it on stupid stuff," says Thomas Brinkman Jr., one of COAST's co-founders and a Republican state representative from Mount Lookout.

COAST leaders remain as defiant and outspoken as ever, undeterred by the election. Many local politicians may not like them, but the group claims to be on the side of voters, despite the last election's results.

"The pendulum has swung and it will swing back," Brinkman says. "We're not in it for just one election. We're in it for the long term."

Peak of power

Just two years ago, the group's mantra - smaller government, less spending, lower taxes - seemed to resonate as it helped elect Republicans Heimlich and Pat DeWine to two of the three Hamilton County commission seats.

But now, with Heimlich defeated, a Democratic majority on the commission, and Brinkman threatening to run against DeWine, what clout does COAST have?

"It's probably declining," says Jane Anderson, who teaches political science at the University of Cincinnati.

"They took a big hit in this last election," says Tim Burke, chairman of the Hamilton County Democratic Party who calls COAST "real pains in the butt."

Schmidt thinks no better of the group's leaders.

Schmidt, a Miami Township Republican who represents the 2nd District, says she believes in the same small government, tight-spending message COAST espouses. That's why she doesn't understand the animosity it shows her.

"The organization's original mission statement is as valid today as ever. Its current leadership has certainly not helped that cause," Schmidt says.

Last year, Brinkman hosted an event where Schmidt's likeness was on a cake. Then Brinkman decapitated that likeness.

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"I think cutting my head off in effigy may be over the top. But it certainly says far more about the folks with the knife than me. I wish I knew what drove them to do these things but I am not wasting any time trying to figure it out," Schmidt says.

That's music to Brinkman's ears.

"We enjoy the fact that people don't like us," Brinkman says.

Inspired by school tax

That in-your-face attitude is emblematic of Brinkman and his fellow COAST co-founder, Cincinnati attorney Chris Finney.

Outraged by a 1998 Cincinnati Public Schools proposal to seek a big property tax to help fund schools, Finney and Brinkman started COAST.

"The anti-tax movement had been kind of dormant until that," says Brinkman, a printer.

Brinkman says COAST, which doesn't charge dues, doesn't have a charter and rarely holds meetings, has just four members besides himself and Finney:

Jim Urling, an attorney for Geico

Paul Naberhaus, president of a valve manufacturing company

Mark Miller, engineer, and

David Langdon, a Sharonville attorney who also has served as attorney for Citizens for Community Values.

COAST's legal and campaign finance documents use Finney's Hyde Park law firm address.

Brinkman was the only COAST member to speak to the Enquirer. Others contacted either didn't return repeated calls or insisted questions be in writing, alleging an Enquirer bias.

Urling posted a response to Enquirer questions on the group's Web site. In it, he says the group "desires to disseminate reliable, truthful information on taxes and spending and excessive use of government power and to take other direct action to influence public policy.

Once the voters have that information, it is up to them to decide how they want to vote."

Among the accomplishments he cited: ending public funding for Drake Center, a rehabilitation hospital in Hartwell, once its current levy ends after 2009; ending the reigns of Republican Commissioners John Dowlin and Tom Neyer; and defeating several proposed school property tax increases.

COAST most often opposes school tax increases. It also earned headlines for a fight against what it considered to be a waste of public money in an attempt to bring the Olympics to Cincinnati. The group also convinced many elected officials to adopt a policy of not allowing taxes to increase above the rate of inflation.

Its strength, Brinkman says, is in creating coalitions, usually with anti-school levy groups, to impose COAST ideals.

"No matter what the tax issue is, there's always 40 percent who vote against it. We try to speak for them," Brinkman says.

GOP leaders mum

COAST members are often articulate and always vocal.

"They're very convinced about the rightness of what they are doing which is very powerful," Anderson says. "I think it's always a danger when someone says they've found the truth with a capital T."

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George Vincent, head of the Hamilton County Republican Party, didn't want to talk about COAST - except to note that it helped get the first Democrat in 30 years elected a county commissioner.

COAST ran Paul Naberhaus in the 1999 county commission race. Naberhaus won enough votes to oust incumbent Republican Bob Bedinghaus and install Democrat Todd Portune, even though Portune won less than 50 percent of the vote.

Naberhaus got 9.25 percent of the vote in the three-man race - just enough to make Portune's 47.75 percent the winner.

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters wouldn't also comment on COAST because his office is investigating allegations of forgery involving signatures on an anti-gay rights initiative pushed by COAST.

But talk about them or not, support them or not, few people expect COAST to fade away anytime soon.

"They're certainly not dead," Burke says. "I think they will continue to be trouble."

And that, too, is music to COAST's ears.

COAST backing didn't help

Of the seven candidates COAST supported in the Nov. 7 election, two won: U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Westwood, and Mary Taylor for Ohio Auditor.

Five lost, including Ken Blackwell for governor, Greg Hartmann for secretary of state, Sandy O'Brien for treasurer, and Phil Heimlich for Hamilton County commissioner.

COAST-endorsed Bob McEwen also lost to a candidate that COAST vehemently opposed: Congresswoman Jean Schmidt.

COAST issues

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Edition: Final Section: Metro Page: 1B Record Number: cin111269737 Copyright (c) The Cincinnati Enquirer. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Gannett Co., Inc. by NewsBank, inc.

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Judge unloads on state Rep.Brinkman

Cincinnati Enquirer, The (OH) - Friday, July 20, 2007 Author: Sharon Coolidge

A judge said two women were wrong to falsify election petitions to earn bonuses but directed much of his ire at state Rep. Tom Brinkman Jr., who headed up the unsuccessful petition drive last year to repeal Cincinnati's gay-rights ordinance.

Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Robert Ruehlman slammed Brinkman from the bench Wednesday, calling him the "real criminal" in the record changing.

The Republican judge said the lawmaker should be charged with complicity to election fraud, acted without ethics and suggested that the state House of Representatives should toss him from office.

"It's terrible," Ruehlman said during the women's plea hearing. "It takes away the right to democracy. It takes away the right for people to decide issues when you cheat like that.

"This is an important issue in the city, for

a lot of people in the city."

Ruehlman's rebuke came after Assistant Hamilton County Prosecutor David Stevenson told him that Brinkman admitted he changed more than 1,000 addresses on the petitions to make them valid.

Brinkman, R-Mount Lookout, was a leader of Equal Rights Not Special Rights.

Brinkman Thursday denied making any changes on the petitions and said Ruehlman is mistaken about what happened: "I personally did not touch a single address or date or signature or name or anything."

The petitions were an effort to overturn an ordinance passed by Cincinnati City Council in spring 2006 that protected gays and lesbians from discrimination.

The group, led by anti-porn activist Phil Burress, collected two signatures more than the 7,654 needed to put the referendum on the ballot.

Citizens to Restore Fairness challenged the petitions and filed a complaint with the Hamilton County Board of Elections.

The group, born out of Equality Cincinnati, the leading local group working for the rights of gays, lesbians and transgenders, pointed out hundreds of fake signatures, including those of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and Reds owner Bob Castellini.

In several instances, the names and addresses of the signer were crossed out and replaced with the addresses of registered voters in order to make them appear valid.

Burress withdrew the petitions, but the complaint was forwarded to prosecutors.

Prosecutors determined that campaigns are allowed to strike out information on a petition, but only if it's done "under the direction and by the authority of the signer."

A lawyer wrongly advised Brinkman that the addresses could be altered, Stevenson explained to Ruehlman.

That's not a good enough excuse, Ruehlman said. He added that even his grade school-age granddaughters know not to sign somebody else's name.

"Under the complicity statute it could be complicity," he said.

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"He's the real criminal. What he did is terrible, almost defrauding. A layer of foundation of our democracy is voting and free elections. To cheat the voting system he's a state rep on top of that."

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said Brinkman's conduct fell in a gray area and was "not a clear-cut violation."

Brinkman's role in collecting the faulty petitions was presented to a Hamilton County grand jury, which declined to indict him, Deters said.

Out of the same investigation, a grand jury indicted Lois Mingo, 48, of St. Barnard, and Precilla Ward, 32, of Winton Place, on charges of altering petitions.

The women worked for Labor Ready, a temporary jobs agency hired by Equal Rights Not Special Rights, and got paid by the hour and the signature. They got bonuses based on the number of signatures collected, Stevenson said.

Wednesday, the women pleaded guilty to election falsification. They face up to a year in prison when they are sentenced Aug. 20, but Stevenson said they are likely to get probation.

Gary Wright, the former president of Equality Cincinnati, who filed the complaint against Brinkman with the Board of Elections, said he agreed with Ruehlman's assessment.

"The big question is why Tom Brinkman, a state representative, did not know better than to change the addresses of voters in his own district," Wright said. "He has no compunction, no guilt, no admission of responsibility."

He praised Ruehlman's public comments.

"I'm gratified the judge understands there is a bigger issue here that all along was ignored," Wright said.

Edition: Final Section: News Page: 1A Record Number: cin126712017 Copyright (c) The Cincinnati Enquirer. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Gannett Co., Inc. by NewsBank, inc.