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Ohio Anti-Gay Marriage Billboard Goes Up Right Before 6th Circuit Equality Cases Begin: VIDEO

Anti Gay Marriage Billboard

An unnamed organization has decided to muddy the waters by erecting a billboard in Columbus that reads "Holy Matrimony is One Man and One Woman" as Ohio's 6th Circuit Court is about to begin hearing marriage equality cases. According to activists with GetEQUAL Ohio, this was done deliberately to try to confuse the public and misdirect them into believing that the courts are deciding on religious rights and freedoms instead of basic human rights and equality. Wrote GetEQUAL Ohio's co-founder Tom Morgan on Facebook:

We will not let this sort of thing stand without a RESPONSE! We are NOT going after anyone's statement of their 'closely held religious beliefs'. It's the TIMING, the thinly veiled underlying message, and 'confusion' of terms that are 'problems'.

A protest was scheduled for this past Sunday, and in attendance was Stephen Snyder-Hill, the Army vet who was famously booed on national television for daring to ask a question about DADT during the Republican presidential debates, among about a dozen others. The protesters made it clear that they don't object to anyone's particular "sincerely-held religious beliefs", but the timing and apparent intent of the sign.

You can watch local news coverage of the protest AFTER THE JUMP...

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Anti-Abortion Activist Disgusted By Boobs, Calls To Ban Public Nudity

Doctor Patrick Johnson

Dr. Patrick Johnson of the anti-abortion group Personhood Ohio has had it with boobs. Dr. Johnson is "sick that women can legally bare their breasts to children and to married men against their will in Ohio," so he is calling for a statewide total ban on all forms of nudity. Yes this includes breastfeeding, despite the fact that the very babies his organization is ostensibly fighting to save need to be able to feed from a woman's breasts to live.

Somehow, freeing the ta-tas is also a show of support for gay pride, as Dr. Johnson claims on his Facebook page, "The gay pride parade in Columbus is 500,000 strong – why? Because the women go topless. This is the only one where I’ve seen this level of nudity."

It is presently legal for women to be topless in Ohio, and it is legal in all 50 states for women to breastfeed in public. Should Dr. Johnson move beyond complaining on Facebook, his version of a proposed nudity ban would conceivably run afoul of the 1st, 13th, and 14th Amendments.


Gay Games Make Powerful Impact on Hearts and Minds in Cleveland

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(photo by brent mullins; photos below by cyd zeigler)

BY CYD ZEIGLER

The Gay Games bill themselves as the “games that change the world.” This week in one of America’s most purple states, they certainly changed Northeast Ohio.

Outside of religion, sports are America’s most powerful cultural force. For a sports town like Cleveland, where conversation about the Browns’ quarterback battle dominates the news, the Gay Games were the perfect tool to make inroads into the hearts and minds of Ohioans. 

ClevelandCertainly this Gay Games was smaller than any since 1986. While organizers claimed in the neighborhood of 7,000 registrants, participants at virtually every sport reported drastically smaller competitions than years past. If I had to make a wager, my best ballpark guess would put the number of actual competitors around 5,000. That’s quite small for the Gay Games.

Yet the event’s ability to affect change in this bellwether state was not diminished. You only had to walk through downtown, or even Little Italy several miles from the festival village, to see rainbow flags where you might not expect them. The power of the pink dollar was seen with rainbows plastered across seemingly every business from hot dog carts to Starbucks, from taxi cabs to the Cleveland Indians. Tower City Center, an iconic Cleveland landmark, was lit like a rainbow every night for the whole city to see. 

Yet the loudest rainbow flag was likely the smallest: a rainbow sticker on the bumper of a police cruiser parked outside the Renaissance Hotel, the de facto center of these Games. 

I made it a point all week to talk with the police officers across the city. They were in full force patrolling the swimming venue, on horses at rowing, with the bomb unit at track & field. They couldn’t have been friendlier, almost like a welcome committee in blue.

“We just want everyone to be safe,” said one cop whose K-9 Benny stole the show at the festival village. “We don’t want anyone to get hurt.”

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The modern gay rights movement started when police raided the Stonewall Inn intent on rounding up a bunch of queers and drag queens in New York City. Forty-five years later their only concern in Cleveland was making sure no one bothers us again.

These Games also brought outreach to two of America’s biggest hurdles in the race for equality: The Christian Church and the GOP. The United Church of Christ was the first denomination to sponsor the Gay Games, and they did it at a high (silver) level. The Republican Party of Cuyahoga County manned a booth at the festival village all week.

The fact that Cleveland was selected over Boston and Washington DC to host the event meant a lot to the people of Cleveland. For an overlooked city that hasn’t won much in sports over the last half-century, hosting these Games was a source of pride. That the games were “gay” gave it that much more meaning. 

“I’m just so proud of this city,” a straight resident told me on the street. “We get a bad rap here in Cleveland and it’s been great to see the city really embrace the gay community.”

Yes, it was a smaller Gay Games. Yes, a big part of the reason was a lack of interest in Cleveland itself. And yes, few participants were there with the intent to shift the culture of Northeast Ohio.

Yet the lasting legacy of the 2014 Gay Games will be its role in changing how the blue-collar Lake Erie region views and treats LGBT people. Sure, Boston and Washington DC would have drawn bigger crowds. But their cultural impact would have been diminished in a state or a district with same-sex marriage and strong protections for LGBT people.

For Cleveland – for Ohio – these Gay Games were a watershed moment.

Cyd Zeigler is co-founder of Outsports.com. He has also written for CNN, MSNBC, Time and Playboy. He regularly appears on national sports media as an expert on LGBT issues in sports. Outsports is a media partner with the Gay Games.


Tallmadge, Ohio Holds Its First Gay Rodeo: VIDEO

Gayrodeo

Ohio Wranglers fans, rejoice, because Tallmadge has just given you another reason to slip into your skintight denim. This year the Summit County Fairgrounds played host to their first-ever gay rodeo, and what's more it was a hit. There were a handful of unorthodox events, such as men trying to put underwear on a goat, but most of the amateur competitions were rodeo standards and taken seriously. Surprisingly, while the competitors were largely gay, nearly 20% were actually straight, and they were bringing their families to see the show, to boot. No small amount of the spectators were straight as well, something that one simply wouldn't expect in such a conservative part of the state. It's a harbinger of good things to come, so here's hoping Tallmadge's gay rodeo grows in both size and renown.

You can watch a video of the story - and get an eyeful of participant Red Hodeo - AFTER THE JUMP...

  Red

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Bill Maher has a New Rule for the Dude Planning Ohio's Upcoming 'Straight White Guy' Festival - VIDEO

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A series of fliers advertising a "Straight White Guy Festival" have been popping up in Columbus, Ohio, but local residents and authorities are still unclear if it's real or a joke.

Regardless, Bill Maher wants people to realize that every day is 'Straight White Guy' festival in Columbus. And the Republican Party is hoping to tap into this oppressed community come 2016.

On Friday, RNC members cast a unanimous vote to make Cleveland the host of its 2016 national convention.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Obama Makes Surprise Video Appearance at Gay Games Opening Ceremony: WATCH

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The Gay Games 9 kicked off in Cleveland last night with thousands of people from all over the country and world gathering to take part in the LGBT-inclusive sporting event. 

The opening ceremony featured appearances by former Olympian Greg Louganis and singer Lance Bass - as well as a surprise message from President Obama via video.

Said Obama, in part:

Screen Shot 2014-08-10 at 7.19.39 AM"Even since 2006, when the Games were last held in the United States, in my hometown of Chicago, we've come a long way in our commitment to the equal rights of LGBT people here and around the world...I know some of you have come from places where it requires courage, even defiance, to come out - sometimes at great personal risk. You should know that the United States stands with you and for your human rights, just as our athletes stand with you in these Games."  

Check out Obama's full speech and video footage of the opening ceremony, AFTER THE JUMP...

The Gay Games will run until August 16. 

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