Rainbow flags and entertainment greeted
people attending Gay Pride festivals and parades in Ohio Saturday.
But revelers attending Gay Pride in Cleveland and Columbus, the
state's most populous cities, concentrated on the party, and mostly
forgot the politics.
In Columbus, the party was moved to
Goodale Park this year. Hundreds of people cheered on as the
colorful parade wound its way from the Statehouse to the festival
grounds in the heart of the city's gay neighborhood.
Cleveland's Gay Pride parade streamed
down East Ninth Street past the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
to dock at Voinovich Park.
Both festivals celebrated the fortieth
anniversary of the Stonewall Inn riots, often considered the birth of
the modern gay rights movement. But if the festival's purpose was
political, the message was lost on most who attended.
In a corner of Columbus' festival,
members of Equality Ohio manned a small booth. People who approached
the booth were asked to sign a petition for passage of Representative
Dan Stewart's Equal Housing and Employment Act, a bill that would
protect gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in the areas of
housing and employment. (The bill won the approval of the State
Government Committee on May 17, but has not reached the Assembly
floor for a vote.)
Two booths down, Ohio ACLU was building
a list for the bill too.
But neither organization was asking
people to get involved, or providing information on the bill. A
woman at the Equality Ohio booth said the names would be given to
lawmakers considering the bill.
Peter Caborn, deputy director of
told On Top Magazine that the group was committed to passage
of EHEA but agreed gay activism in Ohio was lethargic.
In Cleveland, city leaders who
supported a domestic partnership registry were greeted warmly.
“This is the human-rights battle of
our generation,” Councilman Joe Cimperman, who sponsored the
ordinance, told the crowd. “We still have more road ahead of us
than behind us.”
Indeed, Ohio voters approved one of the
toughest gay marriage bans in the country five years ago. And
Cleveland's domestic partner registry grants gay and lesbian couples
no guaranteed benefits whatsoever, yet it has come under intense
fire, mostly by a group of black ministers who have vowed to repeal
A strong lineup of entertainment in
Columbus kept the party rocking till dusk. After-pride parties at
bars and restaurants along High Street soaked in tired revelers.