Tuesday, May 22, 2001

Group for gays forming in N.Ky

By Amanda York
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Over the past couple of years, Kentucky Fairness Alliance chapters — which promote civil rights for gays — have developed across the Commonwealth.

        There's a chapter in central Kentucky, and several in western Kentucky. Until now, Northern Kentucky didn't have one.

        About 25 gay and lesbian activists from Northern Kentucky met Monday evening at the Northern Kentucky Community Center in Covington to discuss starting a local chapter.

        Matt Nicholson, communi ty organizer for the alliance from Louisville, said the chapter would work to educate the community about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues. He said he thought the Northern Kentucky chapter would be a success.

        “This is a great community and I'm confident that this community is going to choose to be loving and open over discrimination,” Mr. Nicholson said.

        A three-person steering committee has been formed, consisting of Christopher Davis, 28, of Covington; Charles King, 54, of Covington; and a third member who did not wish to be identified.

        Other chapters in Kentucky have been advocates for incorporating gender identity and sexual orientation protections into human rights ordinances. Lexington, Louisville and Jefferson County have ordinances that protect gays.

        Mr. Davis said the Northern Kentucky chapter would support the Human Rights Commission in Covington if such an ordinance were proposed.

        Activists at Monday's meeting would not comment on the record about whether the group planned to propose an ordinance.

        Gay rights groups in the Cincinnati area said they would like to see the Northern Kentucky chapter work to incorporate sexual orientation into Covington's human rights ordinance. Because of Covington's proximity to Cincinnati, they said they think it would lead officials to review the controversial Issue 3 in Cincinnati.

        Issue 3, approved by a 62 percent majority in 1998, states that Cincinnati may not provide any “protected status or preferential treatment” to people of homosexual, lesbian or bisexual orientation.

        Doreen Cudnik, director of Stonewall Cincinnati, the city's leading gay rights group, said Issue 3 makes Cincinnati the only city in the country to have a charter amendment that relegates gay and bisexual citizens to “second-class citizenships.”

        Ms. Cudnik said Issue 3 has hurt the city economically and from an image perspective.

        The National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian and Gay Ministers, the Gay and Lesbian Chorale Association and the National Flight Attendants Union were among several organizations that canceled conventions scheduled in Cincinnati. Ms. Cudnik said a report by the Cincinnati Convention and Visitors Bureau said the city has lost $64 million in revenue as a result of Issue 3.


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