News Release 2009 Aug 12

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 12, 2009

Contact:

David Caldwell, Spokesperson, Ask Cleveland
216 965 3690 (cell), david@askcleveland.org


ASK CLEVELAND CALLS ON ANTI-GAY GROUP TO DROP FRIVOLOUS SUIT AGAINST CITY

Spokesperson: "Wrong on the Law, Wrong on the Merits"

CLEVELAND, OHIO -- Ask Cleveland, Cleveland's most active LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) rights organization, today called on anti-gay attorney David Langdon and the Scottsdale, Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund to drop their lawsuit against the city of Cleveland attempting to shut down the city's new domestic partnership registry.

"We're confident that the Ohio Supreme Court will find the registry does not violate the Ohio Constitution.  The only effects this suit will have will be putting the couples and institutions using the registry under a cloud of uncertainty, and forcing the city to spend precious tax dollars to defend a law that costs Cleveland taxpayers nothing," said Ask Cleveland spokesperson David Caldwell.

The ADF argues in its suit that the Ohio constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage -- passed by voters in 2004 as Issue 1 -- also prohibits domestic partnership.  The Ohio Supreme Court considered the reach of the amendment in a 2007 case -- State v. Carswell -- and found that "the second sentence of the amendment means that the state cannot create or recognize a legal status for unmarried persons that bears all of the attributes of marriage – a marriage substitute." (emphasis added)  "The court has already spoken on this issue, just two years ago.  These anti-gay lawyers are wrong on the law, and wrong on the merits -- making it easier for gay, lesbian and other unmarried couples to get basic protections for their families is legal, and the right thing to do."

Group Will Continue Campaign to Pass Transgender Anti-Discrimination Law

Ask Cleveland announced in May that it was launching a campaign to add gender identity to the city's existing non-discrimination law.  Since then, the group has hired a full-time staffer and gathered over 1,000 postcards from residents -- in all 21 wards of the city -- calling on Council and the mayor to protect transgender people from discrimination.

"It's not fair to fire transgender people from their jobs just because of who they are -- but it's perfectly legal," said David Caldwell, spokesperson for Ask Cleveland.  "As we criss-cross the city asking residents whether they think transgender people should be protected against discrimination -- in employment, housing, and public accomodations like restaurants, hotels, and health care facilities -- they overwhelmingly say yes," said Caldwell.

"We still need to do a lot of education -- among both city officials and the public -- to make this non-discrimination law a reality," said Caldwell.  "Our opposition is doing everything it can to create the perception that protecting the LGBT community is politically risky.  But we're not going to let them succeed.  Ask Cleveland is going to make sure that our elected officials also hear from fair-minded residents who believe that in our city, equality and justice should belong to everyone."  Columbus, Cincinnati, Dayton, and Toledo already have laws protecting transgender people from discrimination in those cities.  "We think it's time -- past time -- for Cleveland to join other Ohio cities in declaring it's wrong to discriminate against people because of who they are," added Caldwell.

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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.  Ask Cleveland believes that the LGBT community will achieve its goals sooner and more sustainably by inviting more people to participate in the process of securing equal rights for all.  For more information, or to make a financial contribution, visit http://www.askcleveland.org/


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