Cleveland city leaders offered a warm
welcome to gay and lesbian couples arriving at City Hall to take
advantage of a new domestic partner registry taking effect Thursday.
Gay advocates celebrated with a rally
on the steps of City Hall. Six council members attended the rally,
including Council Members Jay Westbrook, Joe Cimperman and Joe
Registering with the city is mostly a
symbolic act. Registered couples receive no guaranteed benefits or
protections; any benefits gained would be strictly voluntary.
The registry's shortcomings, however,
appeared to be lost on the steady stream of couples lining up for it.
Sixty-four couples, mostly gay or lesbian, had paid the $55
registration fee by 2PM, openly gay Councilman Santiago told On
to the registry appears to have diminished since ministers called for
its repeal in January. A group of mostly black ministers lead by
Rev. C. Jay Matthews failed in an effort to stop the registry from
taking effect. And while the group has vowed to place a referendum
on the November ballot, it appears they missed a March deadline.
City Hall, Matthews led a revival-like prayer service, but an
anticipated anti-gay demonstration failed to materialize.
Cleveland has joined with a movement,” said rally organizer Sue
Doerfer, executive director of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and
Transgender Community Center of Cleveland. “Equality is spreading
much more quickly than the swine flu.”
state that has banned marriage and civil unions for gay couples, the
moment is historic; only two other cities in Ohio – Cleveland
Heights and Toledo – offer such registries.