August 4, 2010

Jerry's kids

Facts, rumors and political innuendo

If Louisville voters have reasons to hesitate in supporting Republican mayoral candidate and Metro Councilman Hal Heiner, R-19, this November, his opposition to the Fairness ordinance could be chief among them.

Following a decade of heated protests and high-profile discrimination incidents, the Louisville Board of Alderman passed a historic city bill prohibiting discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals in 1999.

When city and county governments merged in 2003, the local debate briefly reignited before the newly formed Metro Council reauthorized the legislation as part of Metro government’s new civil rights code.

The bipartisan 19-6 vote reapproved Fairness, but not without consistent objection from Heiner, who voted against the ordinance.

Over the course of a three-hour council meeting, he argued at one point there had been few reported cases of discrimination against LGBT residents since 1999 and questioned whether those incidents justified a new law.

“There’s one case of discrimination per year; is that enough to (merit) this ordinance? That’s the central question,” Heiner said in 2004. “… We’re trying to penalize here based on thought
and behavior.”

Since the mayoral candidates began campaigning for the general election, the Heiner camp has actively courted Democratic and independent voters. In the process, Heiner has made it clear he would not seek to repeal the law and would enforce the ordinance as mayor.

When asked why he opposed the legislation six years ago, the east Louisville Republican echoes his previous talking points, cloaking his comments in a “small government” argument.

“I’m against discrimination in any form, both in my private life, with businesses in this community, and in government,” Heiner says. “But based on my research, federal law already covered that protection under sex, (which) covers us all equally regardless of orientation. I felt it was covered by federal law, and I’m a less government, less regulation person.”

In reality, federal law does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in the private sector; the law protects people from discrimination based on race, national origin, age, sex and disability.

Hearing that misleading argument coming from a mayoral candidate more than a decade after the Fairness ordinance passed is a step in the wrong direction, says Chris Hartman, executive director of the Fairness Campaign, the city’s chief gay rights organization. It’s an argument anti-gay groups across the country often use in opposing local and state civil rights protections for LGBT residents.

“Councilman Heiner stated that current federal protections apply in the case of sexual orientation and gender identity, which is an irresponsible lie,” Hartman says. “And the fact that someone seeking our highest civic office would perpetuate that sort of lie should preclude him from ever serving in any role of authority in our city.”

The agenda from the council’s December 2004 meeting also shows that before ultimately voting against the ordinance, Heiner joined a slim minority that consistently attempted to scale back the law in various ways.

During the contentious debate, Heiner voted in favor of excluding language protecting LGBT individuals in the code, exempting the Boy Scouts of America from having to abide by the law, applying it to larger businesses only, calling for a local referendum on gay rights, and delaying its passage altogether.

Since Heiner announced his candidacy, there have been growing concerns about his socially conservative views in the LGBT community and among local gay rights leaders. Recent revelations about Heiner’s past political contributions have further fueled that criticism.

In August 2004, prior to resisting the Fairness ordinance on the council, Heiner made a $20,000 contribution to the “Vote Yes for Marriage Committee,” which supported the statewide referendum banning same-sex marriage in Kentucky’s constitution. The hefty check from Heiner, a real estate developer, exceeded the amount given by The Family Foundation of Kentucky, a conservative lobbying group that supported the amendment.

“As mayor I will not be contributing to public issue campaigns. I am running to provide better services to this community and to be a mayor for all people in this city,” Heiner says. “I believe in traditional marriage. Somebody asked me for a donation, and I gave it to them. That was the extent of my involvement.”

In a city where registered Republican voters are outnumbered two-to-one, courting Democrats and independents is critical in the GOP’s efforts to elect their first Louisville mayor in four decades. As a result, the Heiner campaign is actively canvassing in heavily Democratic precincts. In addition, the candidate’s open-minded stance on the Ohio River Bridges Project has proven helpful in swaying some liberal voters who are staunchly opposed to the massive public works project, which includes building two new bridges and realigning Spaghetti Junction.

However, the city lawmaker’s socially conservative views could be hard to overlook. It’s no secret that Heiner’s opponent, Democrat Greg Fischer, has launched a poll asking voters (and reminding them
in the process) about Heiner’s anti-Fairness vote.

For gay rights groups especially, that contrast could trump other local issues in the mayoral race, and it’s more than enough to disqualify Heiner from consideration.

“The city cannot possibly choose someone to lead us in the 21st century who has no clue how to protect its citizens,” Hartman says. “Councilman Heiner has taken a bold stance against Fairness, and I think he’s going to have a tough road to overcome that.”

Or maybe not: A recent poll commissioned by WHAS and The Courier-Journal reveals Fischer and Heiner are tied at 45 percent with three months left in

the race. 


By tas1978
Like a lot of gays, I voted for David Tandy at my voting place Noe Middle back on election day. One main reason was Fairness Campaign endorsed him and a businessman in my neighborhood Dan Borsch also did. Plus his wife works as Congressman John Yarmuth's office manager and that's good too. Now I read that Fariness is against Heiner. Fair enough, so am I. But I hear a lot of stories about David Tandy cutting deals with Heiner so he can be deputy mayor or something. Apparently Greg Fischer turned him down. Tandy needs to get on board with Fairness against Heiner like Fairness got on board with Tandy in the primary. I know lots of gays are worried about the tolls on the bridges so they haven't endorsed Fischer since he is kind of a downtown guy on that subject. But there is a bigger picture for gays than tolls and Heiner is the wrong guy and he proved it with his vote against Fariness and his donation in 2004. Is this what David Tandy is really about? Tandy better get with the right guy soon.

As Shelby says..."don't talk about me like I'm not here"

By curtis morrison
@tas1978 "There is a bigger picture for gays than tolls"- Are you serious? First, you're ignoring THE VITAL REASONS there are some gays against the downtown bridge & re-designed spaghetti junction, besides the social injustice of tolls, which are a real burden on already economically-oppressed people. Some of us are also keen on preservation, MASS-TRANSIT, public parks and the livability of urban neighborhoods. Both downtown elements of the ORBP are molestations of all 5 of these vital principles. These are also principles, I might add, of President Obama and the Democratic party. I'm not "worried"- I'm intelligent and paying a little bit more attention than you are. As for David Tandy, I watched as he joined Hal Heiner in voting against Ken Herndon to fill Councilman Unseld's vacant 6th District seat over and over. This is despite Herndon's lifetime of public service and endorsement by C-Fair, the 501c3 arm of Fairness. I couldn't give a rat's ass where Tandy ends up.

LGBTs should try looking at the big picture

By Stevietheman
Heiner would be a mayor who likely wouldn't expand benefits for LGBTs. I think the question for many LGBTs should be: "Should I vote for the guy who is far less qualified (Fischer) simply because LGBTs might win an extra benefit during the next four years or am I going to consider the clear good of the whole city?" Yes, my fellow LGBTs, there are big city issues at stake here, and the world doesn't revolve around our many times narrow concerns. Look at what's going on with the Bridges Project, for instance, and ask why the candidate who the wealthy fundraising gays have picked (Fischer) gleefully and at the behest of the C-J (River Fields) Editorial Board wants to build a second downtown I-65 bridge and hyperwidened Spaghetti Junction WE DON'T NEED and pay for this waste with toll taxes. Whereas Heiner is open-minded about possibly scaling back this madness, and has been sensitive to the issue of tolls all along. Also, what the true insider Fischer calls an "insider" in Heiner is really the fact that Heiner has far more knowledge and experience with our city/county government. But yeah, let's throw that away for a new same-sex benefit and forget there's a lot of other REAL COMMUNITY issues at stake here. Wake up! Steve Magruder - Louisville History & Issues -

Two votes for Heiner

By tas1978
If Chris Hartman is counting, there are two votes for Heiner above - Magruder and Morrison. Magruder talks about narrow issues and then uses one - tolls - to defend his support of the anti-Fairness Heiner. Kettle meet pot. I agree we should look at the broader issues. It occurs to me that the majority of the Council is Democratic (although my councilman is an Independent), our Congressman is Democratic, our governor is Democratic, and our President is Democratic. Our city stands little to gain with an anti-Fairness Morrison and Magruder-supported Heiner, who is a Republican. I know all that can change but it is very rare that a Republican speaks of anything but a smaller government and lower taxes. If you have big plans for a real transportation system and an progressive city, you're being misled because you've become a one-issue voter - tolls. I'm a one-issue voter - the future. Republicans don't paint a big picture solution for the future. Democrats do.

Okay, Missy...

By curtis morrison
An Anti-Fairness Morrison? Are. You. Serious? You think we need to look at broader issues- fine: 1) Elitism:The basis of the Fischer-campaign platform were 20 secret teams of invitation-only members rumored to be from the inept, incumbent administration's power structure. That's an affront to the principle of inclusive engagement. And it's not new. 2) Secondly, the Fischer's are more-connected to the Bush family than Heiner could ever afford to be. Hal has never gone hunting with a Bush. 3) Character. Mr. Fischer has misrepresented his past. How can you trust someone with your future when they can't tell the truth about their own accomplishments? When I called him out for not being Inc. Magazine's Entrepreneur of the Year, he never came out and said "Oops, I was wrong" but instead sent his campaign on this spin rampage that his little plastic "Who's Who" trophy is the same thing. Citizens need to be able to look critically at candidates AND their stands on issues even when they're Democrats. If we don't, that's not a compelling "future." In fact, it's kind of like the present, and I'm just not down with that.

The city's future is all I'm looking at

By Stevietheman
It's not just about tolls, it's about this gargantuan project that is largely unnecessary and its ugly impact on the future of the city I love. Heiner's position is closer to sound thinking, and so he receives my tentative support at this point. I have not announced any final decision on my vote in November. Also, while I generally agree that local Democrats are better choices in this election, and they will be receiving my vote, it is crystal clear to me that Heiner is the one BRINGING IT in terms of his rich background and knowledge about our city government, as well as his 21st Century/Good Government values with respect to transparency and accountability. Heiner made transparency happen; all Fischer has are words. Steve Magruder - Louisville History & Issues -

The downtown bridge

By James
The downtown bridge is the single largest issue today. If built it, along with the new ramps, will be a blight on our downtown and the waterfront for a century or longer. The person elected will only be in office for four years before a rerun. We can stop anti-gay policy (but I do not think we will have to) much easier than we can stop the bridge. We need someone in the mayor's office who will work against building the downtown bridge.

When cities act like

By cciting
When cities act like this.