Saturday, September 14, 2002

Candidate under fire over gay fund-raiser

By The Associated Press

        LOUISVILLE - Jack Conway, the Democratic 3rd Congressional District candidate, is taking heat from anti-gay-rights activists after the announcement of a campaign fund-raiser hosted by two gay businessman.

        “Obviously, if he's taking money from these people, he supports their agenda,” the Rev. Peter Hayes, a Republican and leader of the Pro-Family Coalition of Jefferson County, said at a news conference Thursday outside Mr. Conway's campaign headquarters.

        Mr. Conway defended the event planned for Friday night, saying he welcomed “the support of people of all faiths, all creeds, all colors, all orientations.” He said the critics were connected to the campaign of his Republican opponent, Rep. Anne Northup.

        But Ms. Northup said the Rev. Mr. Hayes' news conference “had nothing to do with my campaign. I didn't know about it, I didn't endorse it, I didn't involve myself in it. That happened by itself.”

        Mr. Conway was to be guest of honor at a $25-per-person fund-raiser, billed as a “Bad Luck for Anne Northup” party on Friday the 13th, held by George Stinson and Eddie Lewis at their home. They are co-owners of The Connection, a gay bar in downtown Louisville.

        The Rev. Mr. Hayes said he sent letters raising objections to the event and calling on Mr. Conway to cancel it.

        Dr. Frank Simon, another Republican who fought Louisville's fairness ordinance that bans discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing and public accommodations, also sent letters urging people to ask whether Mr. Conway supports “homosexual marriages, homosexual Boy Scout leaders and the homosexual priests?”

        The Rev. Mr. Hayes and Dr. Simon said they have no connection with Ms. Northup's campaign.

        Mr. Conway said when the fund-raiser came together he didn't know his backers were gay. “I didn't ask,” he said.

        Asked whether he considered the event a problem in a relatively conservative city, he said no.

        “I am a moderate Democrat,” he said.


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