October 26, 2006

Kentucky Equality Federation protests Representative Fischer's comments, though he still stands by them

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS - Statehouse Republican Joe Fischer is taking criticism for comments he made about gay rights and sexual orientation.

Fischer, a lawyer from Fort Thomas, said in an interview last week with The Community Recorder newspaper that it is "OK to fire someone if they're gay."

"I favor the current laws as they stand now," Fischer told the paper. "Sexual orientation shouldn't be a protected class. "Obviously, people can change their sexual orientation," he said. "Some psychologists have said so."

Fischer defended his comments during a Wednesday night campaign forum at Northern Kentucky University he participated in with his opponent, Democrat Linda Klembara of Fort Thomas.

"Under current federal and states civil rights laws it is OK," Fischer said during the half-hour forum. Sexual orientation is not a protected class. "It should not be in my opinion," he said. "The current law, I think it's fair because sexual orientation has not been a traditionally protected class like women, black, national origin and religion."

Klembara said her "faith runs deep" when asked to comment on Fischer's statements. "And my faith would never allow me to condone hatred or bigotry or discrimination toward any group of people," she said.

About 20 members of Kentucky Equality Federation, a gay rights group, protested Fischer's appearance at the forum. "As far as people being able to change their sexual orientation, it's something you are born with," said federation president Jordan Palmer. "He seems to think you can change it with the proper amount of psychology. So, my question to him is, could he change his to homosexual.

"It is unfortunate that we have people as our elected officials and representatives that aren't willing to represent all of us," Palmer said. "It is not fair, and it will never be fair, to terminate someone because of their sexual orientation."

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."

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.

October 17, 2006

Kentucky's homophobic nightmare, Representative Stan Lee from Fayette County

Lexington, KY -- Representative Stan Lee (R-Fayette) couldn't wait for the legislature to reconvene in January before filing his first anti-gay bill. Representative Lee's first attack against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community for the upcoming 2007 Legislative Session is to "prohibit public higher education institutions from providing health benefits for a domestic partner of a university or college employee."

Representative Lee has wasted no time filing paperwork to prevent the University of Louisville, University of Kentucky, and Northern Kentucky University from pursuing domestic partnership benefits (House BR 102).

Kentucky Equality Federation believes the commonwealth's educational facilities have a better understanding of what is in the best interests of their institutions, and oppose all attempts by the commonwealth to consolidate government and remove "home rule" from our local governments and educational institutions.

October 15, 2006

Gay wrestler tells of internal struggle; WWE's Kanyon became star but was closeted.

Cincinnati Post -- Professional wrestler Chris Kanyon talked about coming out as part of National Coming Out Day to students at Northern Kentucky University in Highland Heights, Ky.

The event was sponsored by Kentucky Equality Federation after an anti-gay attack at the University.