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U.S. Supreme Court Setback for Gay Rights

The U.S. Supreme Court allowed Cincinnati to ban anti-discrimination ordinances protecting the rights of lesbian and gay people yesterday by refusing to hear a challenge to the anti-gay measure.

Rather than rule on the case of Equality Foundation of Greater Cincinnati v. Cincinnati, the Court simply decided not to take the case, thus letting stand the Cincinnati initiative that prevents the city from making any policy allowing homosexuals “any claim of minority status, quota preference or other preferential treatment.”

Yesterday’s setback contradicted a 1996 ruling in which justices struck down a Colorado amendment banning government efforts to protect lesbians and gays from discrimination. In that case, the high court ruled that gays and lesbians had the same right to protection from discrimination just as much as any other group of people. The court declared that no state has no authority to “deem a class of persons a stranger to its laws.”

The Supreme Court’s inaction yesterday comes timely with Monday’s death of Mathew Shepard, a Wyoming student who was brutally beaten because of his sexual orientation. The unfortunate event brings to the forefront the need for hate crime legislation.

A National Candlelight Vigil is planned for Wednesday, October 14 to mourn Mathew Shepard. It will be held on the west steps of the nation’s capital at 7:00 p.m. Members of the US Congress, Ellen DeGeneres, Anne Heche, Betty DeGeneres, and community leaders are schedules to attend. The vigil is also a call on Congress for passage of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

Sources:

Washington Post - October 14, 1998

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