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Bighearted on the bayou.

A Republican state senator with eyes on the Louisiana governorship cast the deciding vote to push a gay-inclusive job discrimination bill to the full senate May 11--and he shared an intimate. family story in the process.

If passed, the bill will prohibit all but the smallest businesses from discriminating against employees because of their sexual orientation. State senator Ken Hollis, a Republican from Metairie who is considering a run for governor, acknowledged the political problem of voting for gay and lesbian rights in his conservative state. But even as he voted, he told a story few had ever heard--about his gay son and the hardship his sexual orientation has caused.

"This was a real gut issue for me," Hollis said. "I realized this is probably not the smartest position, politically, to take. It would have been easy for me to be somewhere else. But I just reached down deep. I voted for it. I did the right thing, and I have had a calm feeling since."

When his son came out about 10 years ago, Hollis said, he hugged him and told him he loved him. But four years later, the son, who'd become a university administrator, phoned his father to tell him he'd been warned he might lose his job for being gay. "I felt the fear in his voice," Hollis said. "And nobody should have to endure that kind of pain."

Telling the senate committee about his son's sexual orientation, Hollis said, "He didn't ask for it. He didn't order it from Wal-Mart. He was born that way." The committee voted 3-2 to send the bill to the full senate, where, Hollis said, he can't predict how it will fare.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:senator Ken Hollis
Author:Stefanakos, Victoria Scanlan
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Interview
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 19, 2001
Words:282
Previous Article:Royal controversy.
Next Article:Gore Vidal and the Oklahoma bomber.
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