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Cincy vote on gay rights law muted by state’s const. amendment

CINCINNATI (BP)–Voters in Cincinnati overturned the only law in the United States that bans gay rights laws, but the Nov. 2 vote may have little practical effect because of Ohio’s overwhelming passage of a constitutional amendment forbidding same-sex “marriages.”

Charter Amendment 3, known as “Issue 3,” passed 53-46 percent, repealing a law voters approved in 1993 that forbade enacting or enforcing laws based on sexual orientation. The final vote on Issue 3 was 65,082 to 55,934.

Phil Burress, president of Equal Rights, No Special Rights and president of the conservative Citizens for Community Values, said the loss is essentially offset by the statewide victory of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex “marriage” and same-sex unions.

Ohio was one of 11 states to pass such an amendment Tuesday, but the Buckeye State’s measure is considered the toughest in the land. Passing by a 3-to-2 ratio, the amendment bars local and state governments from recognizing unmarried couples of either sex. Burress also chaired the committee that campaigned for the initiative.

“If they [local city councils] want to grant special privileges, in any form, to two unmarried people, it will more than likely be held unconstitutional in the state of Ohio now because of Issue 1 [the constitutional amendment],” Burress said.

“The two are definitely tied together. The whole purpose of Issue 3 in the first place was to stop city councils from granting marital-type benefits based on sexual orientation. Our constitutional amendment goes further than anybody else’s. It prohibits state universities or any other political subdivision from giving out domestic partnerships.

“The amendment is much more important. It is statewide and so it will restrict [governing bodies] from granting preferential treatment based on sexual orientation, not only in the city of Cincinnati, but also in all cities in Ohio and in all political subdivisions. Just to give people special rights because they say they are homosexual, lesbian or bisexual is not going to fly in the state of Ohio at any level,” Burress said.

Cincinnati pastor K.Z. Smith, a spokesperson to local media on behalf of Equal Rights, No Special Rights, said the issue for him is not necessarily about gaining favorable poll numbers, but upholding the Bible’s teaching on homosexuality.

“As we said all along, it wasn’t about winning or losing … it was about standing up for what we thought is right,” said Smith, pastor of Corinthian Baptist Church. “We believe as Christians that homosexuality is a sin. The world has now made homosexuality a lifestyle and a race. But it is a behavior just like any other sin. We were just standing up for what we believe is right.”

On a related front, Burgess is joining the American Family Association and Focus on the Family in calling on evangelicals to boycott the Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble corporation because of its endorsement of same-sex “marriage.” Burress, along with the two national ministries, is asking believers to stop buying P&G’s top-selling brands of toothpaste, detergent and disposable diapers.

Burress also hopes to organize a similar boycott of Federated Department Stores — which owns such businesses as Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Lazarus — for its support of same-sex “marriage.”

“This is going to be a little Christmas surprise for these guys [Federated Department Stores],” Burgess said. “They pumped at least $10,000 into this campaign. Procter & Gamble pumped at least $30,000 into the campaign. Procter & Gamble also had fulltime people on leave of absence working on Issue 3.

“We’re going to be calling on the pro-family community, hopefully led by AFA [American Family Association] and Focus on the Family, to not shop in Federated stores this Christmas,” Burgess said.

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  • Jeff Robinson

    Jeff Robinson is director of news and information at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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