Cincinnati ban on gay rights laws may be overturned
Cincinnati's 11-year-old ban on gay rights laws, the only one in the nation, may have been overturned Tuesday in a ballot referendum. Tuesday's election in the historically conservative city was the first time voters were asked to reconsider the ban. As of 1 a.m. Eastern time, the vote to invalidate the antigay law was winning 55% to 45%, with just over 50% of votes counted.
In the campaign leading up to Tuesday's vote, corporate executives teamed with gay rights activists to argue that the ban had given Cincinnati a reputation of intolerance that cost the city convention business and made it harder for corporations to attract new employees. Procter & Gamble Co. and Federated Department Stores Inc. led business support of the repeal effort by donating a total of $30,000. Church leaders and Mayor Charlie Luken also backed the campaign.
The ban's supporters said there was no evidence either of harm to Cincinnati's economy or of changing attitudes since 62% of voters approved the ban in 1993. A coalition called Equal Rights, No Special Rights contended that repealing the amendment would amount to giving "special rights" to gays and lesbians.
A vote in favor of gay equality would be a shift in direction for the city. Cincinnati has established itself over the years as a conservative bastion. Larry Flynt was prosecuted in 1977 for selling his Hustler magazine and again in 1999 for the sale of what authorities said were sexually explicit videos from a Cincinnati store. In 1990, a Cincinnati art gallery was prosecuted for displaying homoerotic photographs by the late Robert Mapplethorpe.