Foes of Cleveland's gay-inclusive
domestic partnership registry have sued the city to have it closed.
filed in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court on August 12 claims
the registry violates Ohio's gay marriage ban. A large majority of
Ohio voters approved the 2004 constitutional amendment that defines
marriage as a heterosexual union and bans the creation of similar
Cincinnati attorney David R. Langdon
filed the suit together with Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund
attorneys on behalf of Dorothy McGuire, who represents the group
Cleveland Taxpayers for the Ohio Constitution.
“Local governments should not enact
laws in defiance of the state constitution,” Langdon said in a
statement. “Ohio voters amended their state's constitution by an
overwhelming margin in 2004, using the democratic process to affirm
the long-held legal definition of marriage and eliminate any attempts
at counterfeits. The City of Cleveland is attempting to skirt the
clear intention of the voters.”
Despite offering no guaranteed
benefits, rights or responsibilities whatsoever, the registry, which
opened in May, has been under attack since it was approved by
councilmembers in December of last year.
A group of mostly African-American
minister led by Rev. C. Jay Matthews first
declared war on the registry. The ministers attempted to stop
the registry from taking effect but fell short of collecting the
11,000 signatures needed before a January 5 deadline. At the
registry's opening, Matthews said he would put the ordinance up for a
vote, but nothing has come of the threat.
The ministers say they oppose the
registry on religious grounds. “That lifestyle goes against God,”
Matthews told a Plain Dealer reporter.
ADF attorneys claim the registry
violates the Ohio Constitution because it “creates the relation of
'domestic partnership' patterned after the marriage laws in Ohio.”
Langdon's involvement in Ohio's gay
marriage debate includes authoring the constitutional amendment
approved by voters and filing an unsuccessful legal challenge to end
a similar gay-inclusive registry in suburban Cleveland Heights.
Cuyahoga Common Pleas Judge Robert
Glickman disagreed with Langdon's assertions that the Cleveland
Heights registry violated Ohio law. Glickman's ruling, however, came
before voters approved the gay marriage ban that specifically
prohibits the creation of unions similar to marriage.
Cleveland Law Director Robert Triozzi
has dismissed the suit.
“We believe the lawsuit does not have
merit and we'll defend ourselves against it,” he told gay
publication the Gay People's Chronicle.