A federal appeals court Friday reinstated a voterapproved City Charter amendment that denied gays special protection against discrimination.
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that sexual orientation is not “an identifiable class” worthy of inclusion in the city’s human rights ordinance alongside gender, religion, race and age.
U.S. District Judge S. Arthur Spiegel misinterpreted legal precedent when he ruled in August that the 1993 amendment on gays was unconstitutional, the appeals court said in reversing his decision.
Spiegel had ruled that the amendment was vague and violated the free-speech and equal-protection rights of gays.
The appeals court said “the reality remains that no law can successfully be drafted that is calculated to burden or penalize, or to benefit or protect, an unidentifiable group or class of individuals whose identity is defined by subjective and unapparent characteristics such as innate desires, drives and thoughts.”
Washington lawyer Michael Carvin, who represented the city and a citizens group that pushed for the amendment, called the ruling “a victory across the board.”
“The court rejected the notion that homosexuals are entitled to special protections as a quasi-class,” Carvin said. “The plaintiffs were arguing that you have to include homosexual rights in civil-rights laws. … Those were very extraordinary notions.”