By Associated Press

Invalid signatures prompt Cincinnati organization to withdraw petitions asking for referendum

CINCINNATI A group has given up its efforts to have voters decide whether gay people should be protected under the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance.

The group Equal Rights Not Special Rights withdrew its petitions for the November ballot on Tuesday because many of the signatures collected were obvious forgeries, chairman Phil Burress said.

Some of the signatures opponents planned to challenge included those of Cuban President Fidel Castro and Cincinnati Reds owner Bob Castellini.
The withdrawal may mark the end of a 14-year battle in the city over whether gay people should be protected from discrimination.

“This shows how much the city has changed,” said Gary Wright, co-chairman of Citizens to Restore Fairness, a group that supports gay rights.

City Council decided in March to add gays and lesbians and transgender people to its human rights ordinance, which protects people from discrimination based on race, gender, age, color, religion, disability status, marital status or ethnic, national or Appalachian regional origin.

The amended law didn’t take effect while Equal Rights Not Special Rights tried to place the measure before voters.

The original ordinance that passed in 1992 included gay people.

Soon after, residents voted for an amendment to remove them as a protected class the only such measure in the nation.

Voters changed their minds in 2004, which led to council’s vote.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, August 18, 2006. сайтцена оптимизации web сайтов