Publication Date

May 1, 1995

Perspectives Section

AHA Activities

The AHA has paid a total of $165,682.90 (including a small amount in legal fees) to settle damage claims made by five Cincinnati hotels after the Association cancelled plans to hold its January 1995 meeting in that city. The AHA moved its 1995 meeting to Chicago after Cincinnati voters passed a referendum to amend the city charter to delete protections against discrimination for gay and lesbian citizens. The Cincinnati hotels settled for far less than the cancellation penalties stipulated in their contracts, according to AHA Executive Director Sandria B. Freitag. (See the Director's Desk column on page 3 of this issue of Perspectives for information about the AHA’s finances and the impact of the Cincinnati settlement)

AHA President John H. Coatsworth appealed to AHA members and friends to help the Association make up the loss. "Many members have been waiting until we completed negotiations with the hotels to send in their contributions. Now is the time," he said. A preliminary effort to raise funds at the time of the Cincinnati decision early last year took in only $8,771, mainly from members of the AHA Council and the Coordinating Committee on Women in the Historical Profession. That sum also included individual contributions in response to appeals published in Perspectives and in the newsletter of the Committee on Lesbian and Gay History.

"At a moment when the AHA is moving to expand member services, revitalize its programs, and launch important new initiatives, members' contributions to defray the Cincinnati costs are vital to the Association's success," Coatsworth said. "The AHA needs only $10 from each member to ease this burden. I hope every member will contribute, even those who had misgivings about moving the meeting site," he added. All contributions to the AHA are tax deductible.

At its January 1994 meeting, the AHA Council decided to cancel plans to hold the Association's 1995 meeting in Cincinnati in response to petitions from hundreds of member and the recommendation of its Research Division. The Council's decision was ratified by an overwhelming vote at the annual business meeting the next day. The Council also adopted new guidelines on the selection of annual meeting sites, stating that the Association will not hold meetings "in locations where its members reasonably believe they would he subject to discrimination on the basis of age, gender, marital status, national origin, physical ability, race, religion, or sexual orientation under state or city laws."

The agreement with the hotels includes a proviso that "as soon as it can reasonably be demonstrated that the laws of the City of Cincinnati comply with American Historical Association policy… its Executive Director will recommend to the American Historical Association Council that its next available annual convention he held in Cincinnati and the existing members of the Council will in good faith attempt to secure the approval of the then-existing Council." (See page 37 of this issue of Perspectives for information about the status of the Cincinnati Human Rights Ordinance.)

In the negotiations with the Cincinnati hotels, the Association was represented by AHA Counsel Albert Beveridge and by the law firm of Beveridge & Diamond, most of whose services were provided pro bono. The favorable outcome was helped by support from the American Council of Learned Societies. Freitag supervised the negotiations in active consultation with the Association's Finance Committee.

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