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Welcome To Ask Cleveland!

Ask Cleveland
 is a broad-based organization of gay rights supporters in greater Cleveland working to protect and advance equal rights for the LGBT (lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender) community.  Our strategy has many components united by a common purpose and by a common tactic—we ask. 

The LGBT rights movement has learned over the years that asking is important -- often the difference between winning and losing.  (You can read more about what we've learned and why we ask.)

            • We ask local voters to support LGBT rights issues at the polls.  By asking, we open conversations that provide an opportunity to educate fellow members of our community, to listen to their concerns, and to persuade them to support our rights. These conversations help us to identify the voters we need to get to the polls during elections.  They also help us to build a far larger LGBT rights movement including everyone who believes that gay rights are fundamental civil rights.
            • We ask local LGBT rights supporters to help in the work of protecting and advancing our rights.  When we ask, we discover that more people are willing to help advance and defend LGBT rights.  We discover that some people who are already helping are willing to help more if they see a way to do it.  We know that when a large enough group of ordinary people work together, they can do extraordinary things.  We also know that there is an untapped pool of leaders in the community if you are imaginative about looking for them.
            • We ask our supporters to take on meaningful roles in participating -- and leading -- our campaigns.  By asking, we open conversations that allow us to discover people’s interests and strengths, and our supporters envision themselves as members or leaders of the team, rather than mere spectators cheering us on.  Many of Ask Cleveland's leaders are new to the LGBT rights movement.  Some are new to politics altogether.

Right now, we’re asking  you to get involved with our current campaign ... to:

Help us find people who support Marriage Equality.

In 2004 62% of Ohio voters passed a ban on same sex marriage.  This was put into the state's constitution.

The ONLY ways that law can change is if:
    1) Ohio voters overturn it in another election, or
    2) a federal law is passed to allow same sex marriage.

Which do you think will happen first?

Obviously neither will happen any time soon.  What we're doing may seem like an impossible task.  It's true that Ask Cleveland can not Ask and Educate everyone in Ohio, but we can do our part here. 

Our efforts here in Cuyahoga County will identify our supporters and train new leaders.  This will help us change Cuyahoga County.  Ultimately it can help us change Ohio.

We Are Asking You!

We can't afford to be out campaigned.  We can't let legislators learn the lesson that it's politically dangerous to stand with us.  Ask Cleveland has stepped forward to make sure that doesn't happen.  We've knocked on over 10,000 doors to talk to Cleveland residents about the domestic partnership registry,  We've gathered over 2600 postcards from Cleveland voters urging Council to pass strong protections for transgender people.  We've raised  $20,000.  We hired a campaign manager for our Transgender Equality campaign.  Now we're moving on to Marriage Equality.  We need to build a larger, more active LGBT community, and we need to incorporate our straight allies.

We need to do more.  Our opposition has big teams, and big resources.  We need to match and exceed them.  We're going to succeed if people who care about equal rights for LGBT people join us.  If this sounds like you, we need your help!  Just as there's nothing inevitable about us being outcampaigned, there's nothing inevitable about us outcampaigning the opposition.  People like you make the difference.  Some people will help a lot; even more will help a little.  Please make an investment in our work, and in the community's success:

Volunteer!

Please volunteer your time; contact us at volunteer@askcleveland.org (please supply your phone number so we can have a conversation with you) or at 216 965 3690.

Donate!

Please contribute financially.  Our hundreds of volunteers power our work -- and our volunteers' time, talent, passion, and individuality give us things that money can't buy.  But whether we like it or not, there are things campaigns need that only money can buy.  We've listed some below.

You can donate specific amounts using Google Checkout below.  Don't have a Google Checkout account?  Donate with your credit card using Paypal.

Ask Cleveland is a ballot issue PAC, and hence contributions are unlimited, and contributions from corporations and labor unions are permitted.  However, contributions to political campaigns like Ask Cleveland are not tax-deductible.




Our last campaign was Stop Transgender Discrimination!

*** Read the press release about our victory, & check back soon for website updates!!! ***

Ask Cleveland's Stop Transgender Discrimination campaign worked to pass a Cleveland city law which would prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations based on gender identity and gender expression.

Legislation relating to gender identity was introduced in August of 2008, and had been stalled since.  It was scheduled to be voted on in December 2008 -- but amid the uproar over the Cleveland domestic partnership registry, the vote was postponed.

The vote over the domestic partnership registry happened very quickly -- Council voted on the registry legislation just three weeks after the proposal became public.  Although opponents only had three weeks to mobilize, they nearly succeeded in defeating it.  Several city council members changed their minds in the weekend before the vote.  Our allies on Council reported that they were receiving ten calls in opposition to the legislation for every call they received in favor.  Our opposition badly outcampaigned our side.  Ask Cleveland formed out of the aftermath of this process.

Ask Cleveland believes there's nothing inevitable about the LGBT community being outcampaigned by our opposition.  We have a choice.  We could continue to be a community of a few, quietly lobbying behind the scenes, asking our legislators to resist the popular outcry they hear when they stand up for us.  Or we could mobilize our supporters, and create an even louder popular outcry of our own.  Ask Cleveland knows from experience that if we look, we'll find people willing to fight for equal rights -- from transgender people themselves, to allies from the lesbian, gay and bisexual communities, to progressive straight allies.  The vast majority of people who support LGBT rights don't participate in the political process.  But during our campaign to defend the registry, Ask Cleveland learned that there is enormous potential in the community if we ask people to help.

 (For more information, see the news release announcing the campaign.)

Keep The Registry!

After the domestic partnership registry passed, an opposition group began circulating petitions in an effort to put the law on the ballot, so that they could ask voters to overturn it.  Ask Cleveland responded with our Keep The Registry campaign.  Again volunteers knocked on over 10,000 doors talking with voters about the registry law and lining their support up in preparation for a possible election.

The opposition signature drive continued -- but it didn't go as quickly as they hoped.  That was fortunate for us, but if they had been more organized the story could be different.  The registry was not on the ballot in 2009.

We don't know whether it will be on the ballot at some point in the future -- it might be on the ballot in 2010, it might be on the ballot even later than that, or it might never be on the ballot at all.

What we do know is that the success of the opposition's signature drive is not something we have much control over.  Leaders from Heights Families for Equality -- who are experienced signature-gatherers, having mounted America's first pro-LGBT ballot initiative -- have explained to us that there's little you can do to shut down a petition drive.

What is within our control is what we do.  We're monitoring the opposition, and our judgment is that it's time to suspend the Keep The Registry campaign and move forward.  The transgender community is suffering terrible discrimination today.  We're ready to turn our attention to righting that wrong.

In any case, Ask Cleveland's larger goal is building a larger, more active, more mobilized, better organized LGBT rights community in Cleveland.  Next time we have a fight, we need to have more people working on our side.  If the opposition signature drive heats up again, that fight may be about domestic partnership; if it doesn't, that fight will be about transgender rights.  In either case, the work Ask Cleveland is doing will help us be ready to win.




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