Cincinnati archbishop supports repeal of city's antigay law
Cincinnati Roman Catholic archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk said he supports the effort to repeal a 1993 city charter amendment that prohibits the city council from enacting gay rights laws. Pilarczyk called the amendment morally wrong in a piece he wrote for Friday's issue of The Catholic Telegraph, the newspaper of the city's archdiocese. But Pilarczyk, also the newspaper's publisher, added that he still opposes the 1992 gay rights ordinance that led voters to change the city charter because it "made homosexual behavior as legally acceptable as heterosexual behavior."
Homosexual behavior is not tolerated by the church, but homosexuals still should be protected from discrimination, Pilarczyk said. "I believe now, as I believed at the time of its passage, that Article XII [the amendment] is as detrimental to the public good as the ordinance that it invalidated," he wrote.
His statement comes two weeks after a group called Citizens to Restore Fairness said it gathered the needed signatures to put the repeal on the November ballot. Cincinnati is the only U.S. city to ban enacting or enforcing gay rights laws, and repeal backers say it has discouraged people from taking jobs in the city.
The Equal Rights, Not Special Rights coalition, which supports keeping the amendment, says gay men and lesbians shouldn't seek what coalition members call special protection under the law. Pilarczyk did not instruct fellow Catholics on how to vote on the issue. Instead, a spokesman said, his statement was intended as a "considered opinion based on the teachings of the Catholic Church."
State representative Tom Brinkman Jr., a Cincinnati Republican and a Catholic who serves as treasurer of the campaign to keep Article XII, said he won't argue with the archbishop on church teaching. But he said Pilarczyk misunderstands what the amendment says. "Article XII is completely consistent with church teaching. It does not discriminate, nor does it give special treatment to homosexuals. It has always been equal rights--not special rights," Brinkman said.
The archbishop joins more than 40 religious leaders--Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish--who support the repeal, according to the Citizens to Restore Fairness. Several large Cincinnati employers also support the ballot issue, saying the amendment carries a stigma of intolerance and makes it harder to recruit employees. Procter & Gamble Co., based here, has donated $10,000 to the repeal campaign.