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How Will Cleveland Leverage Hate Crimes and Gay Games to Brand Itself an LGBT-Friendly City? — VIDEO


Leaders in Cleveland's LGBT community talk to the Northwest Ohio Media Group about how recent hate crimes at the city's Cocktails Lounge and the upcoming Gay Games in 2014 are an opportunity to raise awareness about how LGBT are disenfranchised in the state and lift Cleveland's reputation as an LGBT-friendly city.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP... adds:

The Diversity Center of Northeast Ohio has developed a four-hour training to give to businesses that wish to be a sponsor of the games or a certified vendor.

Peggy Zone Fisher, the group's president and CEO, said the training would examine companies' policies and procedures and rate them on how LGBT friendly the business is.

"We're not going to rewrite their handbook," she said.

Fisher, pointing out that it's not against the law in Ohio for employers to fire employees for being gay, said the training is a way to use the Gay Games as a spring board to make Cleveland more LGBT friendly long term.

"The sustainability piece of this training is going to be getting those protections in place in the policies and procedures of the companies," she said.

Public attention to the hate crimes has also brought light to what LGBT leaders see as another omission in the law - one that Ohio Rep. Nickie Antonio plans to address.

Continue reading "How Will Cleveland Leverage Hate Crimes and Gay Games to Brand Itself an LGBT-Friendly City? — VIDEO" »

Ohio Lawmaker Wants Judge Impeached for Ordering State to Recognize Gay Marriage


Ohio Rep. John Becker, (R-Union Township, pictured below) wants to impeach Judge Timothy S. Black, who in July ordered the state to recognize the marriage of John Arthur and Jim Obergefell.

BeckerArthur and Obergefell, you may recall, chartered a plane to Maryland with the help of friends, family, and social media, so that they could marry because Arthur is terminally-ill with ALS, and married on the airport tarmac. They also filed a lawsuit challenging Ohio's ban on same-sex marriage.

Becker wants Black impeached for “malfeasance and abuse of power," and is calling on Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) to start the proceedings, reports:

“I am writing you today to express my concerns about the federal government’s ever growing propensity to violate state sovereignty,” Becker wrote Friday in a letter to Wenstrup, a Columbia-Tusculum Republican.

Federal judges are appointed for life. The only way to remove a federal judge is for the House of Representatives to impeach the judge and the Senate to vote to remove the judge from office.

“Judge Black has demonstrated his incompetence by allowing his personal political bias to supersede jurisprudence,” Becker wrote. “This will begin the process of restoring state sovereignty back to the original intent of the US Constitution.”

Wenstrup released a statement: “While Judge Black’s ruling violated the Ohio Constitution and the will of Ohio voters, the question of whether this decision also violated the U.S. Constitution remains before a higher court. I will watch those appellate proceedings closely to see if Judge Black’s decision is upheld and I have full confidence in the Ohio’s office of the Attorney General during the appeals process.”

Marriage Equality Public Education Campaign Kicks Off in Ohio: VIDEO


Marriage equality supporters in Ohio launched a new campaign to educate the public about marriage equality yesterday while a timeframe for action is agreed upon, the Columbus Dispatch reports:

The pushback against the 2004 marriage ban gained attention yesterday with a three-city announcement of the Why Marriage Matters Ohio education campaign.

Backers at a Statehouse news conference included the Equality Ohio Education Fund, Freedom to Marry, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Ohio, clergy members, the only openly gay state legislator, a Columbus businessman and two same-sex couples.

But there is a schism in the gay and transgender community about when the Ohio campaign should begin: next year, 2016 or beyond?

Elyzabeth Holford, executive director of Equality Ohio, said Ohioans value fairness and human dignity, and will eventually vote to overturn the 2004 amendment limiting marriage to one man and one woman. But she would not commit to pushing the issue to the ballot next year.

Cincinnati City Council member Chris Seelbach (above) spoke at that city's launch event:

The issue is personal for Seelbach, the city’s first openly gay council member. He talked about his desire to marry his partner of 8 years, noting “it’s about my family being treated fairly and equally in the state of Ohio.”

Watch WLWT's report, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Marriage Equality Public Education Campaign Kicks Off in Ohio: VIDEO" »

Second Gay Couple Files Suit to Have Ohio Recognize Their Marriage

A second gay couple has joined a federal lawsuit demanding that the state of Ohio acknowledge their marriage status on a gay spouse's death certificate, the Cincinatti Enquirer reports:

OhioDavid Michener and William Herbert Ives of the Cincinnati suburb of Wyoming, Ohio, were married July 22 in Delaware, a month before Ives died unexpectedly Aug. 27 of natural causes. A death certificate is required for cremation, and Michener is asking to be listed as Ives' surviving spouse on the certificate.

Michener is asking the court to include their suit in a lawsuit filed in federal court in July by another couple, John Arthur and James Obergefell, who married July 11 in Maryland. The June U.S. Supreme Court decision granting federal recognition to same-sex marriages prompted them to marry.

Arthur is dying of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and their lawsuit asks that they be listed as spouses on Arthur's death certificate, as Arthur's condition continues to deteriorate. Federal Judge Timothy Black issued a temporary restraining order in July requiring the state to list them as spouses in the event of Arthur's death. The order has been extended through the end of 2013.

Towleroad previously reported on Arthur and Obergefell's challenge to the state of Ohio, as well as the touching video about their marriage, which took place in Maryland on the airport tarmac.

UPDATE: A judge has ordered the state to recognize Michener and Ives's marriage, the Washington Blade reports.

In a three-page restraining order, U.S. District Judge Timothy Black on Tuesday ordered the State of Ohio recognize the marriage of a Cincinnati couple that married in Delaware in July, but where one person in the relationship unexpectedly died of natural causes last month.

Black ruled that David Michener, the surviving spouse in the relationship, is eligible for the restraining order because of immediate need for action as well as the likely success of his claim that the state constitutional amendment in Ohio barring recognition of his marriage violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments under the U.S. Constitution.

“On this record, there is insufficient evidence of a legitimate state interest to justify this singling out of same sex married couples given the severe and irreparable harm it imposes on David Michener,” Black writes.

Gay Man Beaten by Mob in Hate Crime Outside Cleveland Bar: VIDEO


Jared Fox was attacked on Saturday night outside the Cocktails Lounge in the area of West 93rd Street and Detroit Avenue by a group of people he says taunted him with homophobic slurs and demanded money, ABC5 reports:

Cleveland police said they received four calls about a group of males disturbing the area and assaulting a customer at Cocktails Lounge.

“Last night I was the victim of a hate crime. I was walking into a bar on Detroit Avenue in Cleveland. I was walking from my parked car. I got out and I saw a group of youth on the side of the street,”  Jared Fox said in a YouTube video.

“Instincts and my experience with youth was that kids in a large group just aren’t up any good.”

“They started to just charge and they surrounded me,” Fox said. He said they asked for him money and used anti-gay slurs. “They thought I was an easy target.”

"They just started beating me," Fox said. "They punched my glasses into my face and sliced it right there" he said while pointing to the cut on his nose. He said he also suffered a ruptured eardrum. "They stomped on me, my back, my ribs while I was on the ground."

Fox says one of them asked him, "Do you want to die?" He says he begged someone driving by in a car for help but the car drove away. He also pounded on the doors of nearby houses.

Watch ABC5's report and Fox's YouTube video, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Gay Man Beaten by Mob in Hate Crime Outside Cleveland Bar: VIDEO" »

Ohio Amusement Park Cancels Wedding Contest To Avoid Including Gay Couples

SRPCPGAYWEDDING2With its 16 different roller coasters, Cedar Point of Sandusky, Ohio, is a Mecca for thrill ride enthusiasts throughout North America and the world. Unfortunately, the park is receiving a bit of bad press as of late, after canceling a contest in which it would allow 13 couples to get married on park grounds to mark the beginning of their HalloWeekends festival so they could avoid including gay couples in it.

Ohio is one of the many states in the country that does not currently allow marriage equality. That didn't deter Scott Kenimond and Eric Morrison of Akron when they saw the contest online. According to the Sandusky Register, the two are roller coaster enthusiasts, which was one of the things they bonded over when they first met. “It was one of the things that made me message him. First I thought, ‘He looks cute,’” Morrison said. "My username was WickedTwister. He knew right away I was a fan." The two have already been engaged for months. Thus, when they found Cedar Point's contest online, it seemed a bit like providence. “[Scott] was elated. He was beside himself so happy,” said Morrison. Then they read the fine print: "Due to marriage laws in Ohio, weddings are limited to male-female couples only."

SRPCPGAYWEDDINGThis obviously didn't sit well with Kenimond and Morrison, who then took to Twitter and Reddit to gather support. For one thing, the contest ad offered it as a chance for already-married couples to renew their vows. “It doesn’t matter if it’s legal or not,” Morrison said. “You should be able to have a commitment ceremony. For God’s sakes, you’re getting married by a zombie.”

Nevertheless, officials at Cedar Point decided to cancel the contest shortly thereafter, issuing a statement that read: 

“When the promotion logistics started to take on political undertones, as indicated by several guests who gave us feedback, it was decided that now is not the best time for this event... Cedar Point does not take any official stance on political issues.” 

The couple was already considering a commitment ceremony in Cedar Point anyway, to which the park announced in its statement that “we encourage guests to contact us if they’re interested in planning such an event.” Nevertheless, the couple was still looking forward to have the chance to have expenses and organization taken care of by the park. That said, Morrison, who works in marketing, understands the park's decision. 

“For them, this was not a political commotion. It was simply to drum up interest for HalloWeekends and they had a stance where they chose not to choose a stance...I’m disappointed they would choose to go that way rather than stand behind their LGBT community. Ultimately, they’re playing it safe. But it’s a cowardly choice.”


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