Judge Strikes Down “Unconstitutional” Cincinnati Referendum
AHA Staff, October 1994
U.S. District Judge S. Arthur Spiegel struck down a recent Cincinnati referendum eliminating reference to sexual preference in the city's human rights ordinance as "unconstitutionally vague," reaffirming the AHA's contention that the approved amendment was an infringement on the rights of residents and visitors to the city.
On November 2, 1993, 62 percent of Cincinnati voters approved an amendment to the city charter that barred the city council from adopting laws giving legal protection to gays and lesbians. In January, the Association's Council, supported by all but three members at the annual business meeting, responded to the voter's decision by moving the 1995 annual meeting to Chicago. The Council also resolved that the "Association [will not] hold its annual meeting in locations where its members would be subject to discrimination." In overturning the amendment, Judge Spiegel declared that the court was "preventing one group of citizens from being deprived of the very rights we all share."
Nevertheless, Judge Spiegel's decision does not end the issue. Equal Rights—Not Special Rights, the organization that was the principal sponsor of the referendum, has already appealed the decision. In early September, the Cincinnati City Council also voted to appeal Judge Spiegel's decision.
In light of the still unresolved status of this measure, the Council of the Association has decided not to reconsider the relocation of the 1995 annual meeting.