Equality Foundation of Greater Cincinnati Inc. v. City of Cincinnati

128 F.3d 289
Brief Filed: 12/94
Court: United States Court of Appeal for the Sixth Circuit
Year of Decision: 1995

Read the full-text amicus brief (PDF, 628KB)


Whether an anti-gay rights ballot initiative was constitutional

Index Topic

Sexual Orientation


A group of individuals known as "Equal Rights, Not Special Rights" presented an initiative that was ultimately passed by the voters of Cincinnati. It amended the city charter so that no ordinance, regulation, rule or policy could be enacted, adopted or enforced that provided that homosexual, lesbian or bisexual orientation, status, conduct or relationship constituted, entitled or otherwise provided a person with the basis to have any claim of minority or protected status, quota preference or other preferential treatment. The Equality Foundation of Greater Cincinnati Inc. brought suit against the city seeking preliminary and permanent injunctive relief to prohibit implementation of the charter amendment. The district court granted a preliminary, and later, a permanent injunction because the amendment would forever bar the City Council and all levels of city administration from administering or enforcing any law or policy on behalf of gays, lesbians and bisexuals — effectively denying them from participating in the political process through petitioning of City Council for laws that would benefit them. It found that: (1) there has been a history of invidious discrimination and stereotyping against gays and lesbians including the now discredited notion that homosexuality is a mental illness; (2) sexual orientation bears no relation to an individual's ability to perform, to participate in or contribute to society; (3) sexual orientation is beyond an individual's control; and (4) sexual orientation is highly resistant to change. The district court held that homosexuals were a quasi-suspect class and that this amendment would be held to a heightened level of scrutiny. Under the heightened level of review, the court found the amendment unconstitutional. The City of Cincinnati appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

APA's Position

APA filed an amicus brief arguing that: (1) the district court's findings concerning sexual orientation (that sexual orientation is distinct from sexual conduct, gay people do not choose their sexual orientation, and sexual orientation does not adversely affect a person's ability to contribute to society) are consistent with the great weight of scientific literature and opinion; (2) scientific opinion also supports the district court's finding that gay people constitute an identifiable group and are discriminated against; and (3) prejudice against lesbians and gay men consists largely of inaccurate stereotypes and leads to serious harms.


The Sixth Circuit issued a complete reversal of the district court's opinion.