The threat of rain held off Thursday as
Cleveland city leaders offered a warm welcome to gay and lesbian
couples arriving at City Hall on the opening day of its domestic
But a larger threat loomed in the email
box of Cleveland Director of Law Robert J. Triozzi.
Gay rights foes had sent Triozzi a
strongly worded letter asking the city to end the registry and called
“The City's registry violates Article
XV, Section 11 of the Ohio Constitution, which prohibits a
municipality from creating or recognizing a legal status for a
relationship of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the
design, qualities, significance or effect of marriage,” lawyers for
the Christian conservative Alliance Defense Fund said.
“The purpose of this letter is to
request that your office … [seek] an injunction that would enjoin
the City from the further abuse of its corporate powers entailed by
the passage and enforced operation of the domestic partnership
registry in violation of the Ohio Constitution.”
Sixty-four couples, mostly gay or
lesbian, had registered for Cleveland's partner registry by 2PM
Thursday, openly gay Councilman Joe Santiago told On Top Magazine.
Registering with the city is mostly a
symbolic act. Registered couples receive no guaranteed benefits or
protections; any benefits gained would be strictly voluntary. It
carries no force of law.
The ADF says it represents Cleveland
Taxpayers for the Ohio Constitution and Dorothy McGuire, a Cleveland
Ohio voters approved one of the
toughest gay marriage bans in the country by a large margin five
years ago. Approval of the registry in December drew condemnation
and promises of repeal from a group of mostly black ministers headed
by Rev. C. Jay Matthews. But their threat appeared diminished after
the group failed to secure the necessary signatures to stop the
registry from taking effect and missed a March deadline for the
November ballot. The ministers did pray inside the council chamber
but an expected protest failed to materialize.
Two other Ohio cities offer a domestic
partner registry: Cleveland Heights and Toledo. City leaders in
Cleveland Heights, a suburb of Cleveland, successfully rebuffed a
legal challenge in 2004, but that fight was not based on the