Thursday, May 15, 2003

Five to fill expanded rights panel

More groups represented on Covington board

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

COVINGTON - The Covington Human Rights Commission, just two weeks after a victory on its gay rights expansion of the city's non-discrimination clause, has nearly doubled its members.

Tuesday night, the City Commission added a Hispanic representative, a second African-American, representatives of the mentally and physically disabled communities, and a female attorney who represented the business viewpoint in meetings to discuss the expansion of Covington's human rights law.

The city's new human rights law approved April 29 called for expanding Covington's human rights commission from five to nine members, protected more groups from discrimination, and added penalties. The newly expanded commission will hold its first meeting on June 3 at the city building.

"This rounds out our board and makes it very representative of the community,'' said City Commissioner Craig Bohman. "No matter what issue comes before the board, everyone in the community should feel there's someone on the board who represents them."

New Human Rights Commission members are Hensley Jemmott, first vice president of the Northern Kentucky chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and a former member of the Covington Board of Education; Marie Braun, a leader of the Disabilities Coalition of Northern Kentucky Inc.; Jimmy Williams, a long-time Covington resident who never let a slight mental disability get in the way of his political activism; Gil Esparza, founder and director of the Hispanic Resource Center in Covington, and Julie Hackworth, a lawyer with Ashland Oil.

Mr. Jemmott replaces Rollins Davis, the executive director of the Northern Kentucky Community Center, who recently left the board.

"I think they'll all be a great addition," said the Rev. Don Smith, chairman of the human rights commission and pastor of Community of Faith Presbyterian Church. "The city commission approved all of the Human Rights Commission's recommendations" for new members.

"We have good representation from groups who, in the past, felt they had been discriminated against."

Other current board members include Charles King, Sandy Kerlin and Pamela Mullins.

Covington's new human rights law adopted last month replaced the one adopted in 1998 with a more comprehensive one that protects people from discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations because of disability, age, sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sexual orientation and gender identity.


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