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."

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