October 25, 2006

Representative Fischer's (R) statement upsets gays

By Kevin Eigelbach, Post staff reporter

Cincinnati Post -- Gay rights groups are objecting to comments that state Rep. Joseph Fischer made to a Northern Kentucky newspaper.

According to a Community Recorder article published Thursday, the Fort Thomas Republican said that it's obvious that homosexuals can change their orientation.

In an interview with The Post Tuesday, he didn't back away from that statement.

"I've done a little research into that," he said, and referenced two Web sites, http://www.narth.org/ and http://www.couragerc.net/.

The former is the Web site of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, whose primary goal is to give therapy to homosexuals who want to change.

The latter is the site for Courage, a Roman Catholic group that helps homosexuals live a celibate lifestyle.

Kentucky Equality Federation, a gay-rights group, disputed that homosexuals can change, citing American Psychological Association policy.

The federation challenged Fischer to change his own orientation to homosexual for 48 hours, an invitation Fischer said he didn't intend to respond to.

Fischer's Democratic challenger, Fort Thomas resident Linda Klembara, said she didn't believe homosexuals could change their sexual orientation.

"I don't ever remember consciously saying, 'I'm going to be a heterosexual,'" she said. "I think we're all born who we are."

Fischer told The Post that the Community Recorder quoted him accurately, but somewhat out of context.

He was asked if it was OK under Kentucky law to fire someone for being gay, and he said it was.

"I favor the present law as it exists," he said. "I don't favor extending special civil rights beyond the traditional protected classes."

Homosexuals have not experienced the same type of "insidious discrimination in housing and employment" as blacks and women, he said.

Usually, society defines protected classes by their inherent characteristics and not the relationships they form, he said.

"As a class, gays have equal or higher median income as heterosexuals," he said. "That may not be the case for women and minorities."

The federation's president, Jordan Palmer, said Fischer's statement that it's all right to fire employees for being gay reminded him of other things that used to be OK in the United States, such as forced segregation.

"The comments made by Representative Fischer are a slap in the face to the people who lay their lives on the line every day to protect the ideals the founders of our nation had," he said.

He also disputed Fischer's statement that gays had not suffered as much as blacks and other minorities.

During World War II, at least 15,000 gay men died in concentration camps in Germany, he said. German soldiers were also known to use gay men for target practice, aiming their weapons at the pink triangles gays had to wear on their shirts.

"I'd like Representative Fischer to provide us with a number of exactly how many people need to suffer before he will acknowledge it," Palmer said.

Fischer's statements weren't that much of a surprise to Covington resident Dean Forster, secretary for the Kentucky Fairness Alliance.

Fischer has sponsored several "anti-gay" bills, Forster said, including one to rescind city ordinances in Covington, Lexington and Louisville to protect gays from discrimination.

"I will certainly be looking to support candidates who advocate legislation that protects all people from discrimination," Forster said of the November election.

Klembara, also of Fort Thomas, said her faith would not allow her to condone prejudice against anyone. She doesn't believe employers should be able to fire people just for being gay.

"It's my belief that when the Lord told us to love one another, it was not a suggestion, it was a commandment," she said.

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