Cincinatti's Anti-Gay Charter Not Reviewed by the Supreme Court

NEW YORK--The American Civil Liberties Union today expressed disappointment at the Supreme Court's decision to deny review in Equality Foundation v. Cincinnati, a challenge to Issue 3, a controversial anti-gay charter amendment adopted in 1993.

But as Justice Stevens pointed out in a explanatory statement, a decision by the Supreme Court to deny review does not set any new legal precedent, the ACLU said. In this case, moreover, Justice Stevens emphasized that the reason the Court denied review was because of lingering confusion over the meaning and scope of the charter amendment.

"Nothing in today's order even remotely suggests that the Supreme Court is backing away from its landmark 1996 decision in Romer v. Evans," said Steven R. Shapiro, the ACLU's National Legal Director. "In fact, the only opinion accompanying today's order made a point of distinguishing today's denial of certiorari from its ruling on Colorado's anti-gay measure."

The Court's 1996 ruling in Romer blocked a Colorado measure barring local and state governments from passing an anti-bias law protecting lesbians and gay men.

"The Sixth Circuit read the Cincinnati charter amendment as merely a repeal of what the appeals court described as special protections and not as a prohibition of anti-discrimination laws," said Matthew Coles, Director of the ACLU's Lesbian and Gay Rights Project. "While we didn't agree with that interpretation, we are confident that the strength and vitality of the Supreme Court's commitment to Romer is undiminished, and its belief in equality for lesbians and gay men remains intact."

The case is Equality Foundation of Greater Cincinnati vs. Cincinnati, 97-1795.

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