News Release 2009 May 26


May 26, 2009


David Caldwell, Spokesperson, Ask Cleveland
216 965 3690 (cell),


Gay Rights Group: "Our Movement Needs Public Support To Make Further Gains"

CLEVELAND, OHIO -- Ask Cleveland, Cleveland's most active LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) rights organization, is disappointed with today's decision by the California Supreme Court upholding Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment passed in November 2008 banning marriage for same-sex couples in that state.

"We regret this decision to deny tens of thousands of committed couples the chance to declare their love for one another, and to access the same institution that most of America takes for granted -- marriage.  Today's decision dramatically demonstrates that the gay rights movement can't count on courts alone to secure progress.  Our movement needs public support to make further gains," said Ask Cleveland spokesperson David Caldwell.  "Once discrimination is written into the constitution -- as it was in California, and here in Ohio in 2004 -- it's very difficult to make a legal argument that discrimination is unconstitutional.  California won't have marriage equality until its voters decide to change their constitution to remove Proposition 8's language."

"We look forward to that day, and we're excited about the hard work that California groups have already been doing -- talking with voters one-on-one to persuade them to repeal Proposition 8 the next time they get to vote on it."

Ohio Victory Not Likely Soon

Although California gay rights groups are planning to try to repeal Proposition 8 within the next four years, Caldwell cautioned Ohioans that many years of hard political work are ahead before Buckeye State residents can expect same-sex marriage to be legal here.  Ask Cleveland is currently working to pass a law to prohibit discrimination against the transgender community in the city of Cleveland.  "Here in Ohio, it's still legal in most of the state to fire someone just for being gay.  We have a lot of basic protections to establish before we can think about a campaign to reverse the marriage ban," said Caldwell.

Spokesperson:  We Have a Responsibility -- Ohio is the Key Stop on the Road To National Marriage Equality

"We're a long way from a national standard permitting same-sex marriage -- marriage is traditionally governed by state law, and neither federal nor Ohio courts are promising avenues for legalizing marriage here," said Caldwell.  In 2004, Ohio voters passed Issue 1, which amended the state Constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage -- and even civil unions, which would provide couples with the same rights as marriage under a different name.  "We lost an election in Ohio on this issue in 2004 by 1.2 million votes."  Eleven Ask Cleveland leaders traveled to Maine in April, to assist with the campaign to persuade voters in that state to vote to uphold Maine's new law permitting same-sex marriage.  "Our experience in Maine helped us see that our community in Ohio needs to learn to operate on a much larger scale than we currently are -- mobilizing tens of thousands of volunteers and raising tens of millions of dollars -- before we'll be able to repeal the marriage ban amendment and begin working to persuade our legislature to pass a marriage law."

"The road to national marriage equality runs straight through Ohio.  We've now won marriage in a few states, and we may be able to win in a few more, but pretty soon we're going to get to Ohio.  It's pretty simple -- if we can't win in a state like Ohio, we can't win nationally -- but if we can win here, it'll show we can win in states outside New England and the coasts, and that will open the floodgates nationally.  So Ohio is going to be a pivotal state in the national struggle, and Ask Cleveland is doing the hard work the LGBT community needs to do statewide to hasten the day the Buckeye State can be the turning point," Caldwell added.

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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