Whatever happened to Cleveland's domestic-partner registry, which was launched this year As of Thanksgiving, the city had issued more than 160 licenses.
The registry, a controversial concept that enables same- and opposite-sex couples to declare a relationship without marriage, has withstood challenges from pastors and lawyers.A great measurement of success came in September when the Federation of Gay Games announced that Greater Cleveland would host the 2014 Gay Games, an international competition.
The registry has helped to carve out a tolerant, gay-friendly image for Cleveland. Many believe the Gay Games would not be coming here if not for its launch in April.
The event is expected to inject about $60 million into the regional economy.
"We continue to be a city of celebrating diversity," said Councilman Joe Cimperman, a sponsor of the registry who traveled to Cologne, Germany, to lobby the selection committee.
City Council members passed legislation to create the registry last December. Their 13-7 vote followed heated debate and intense pressure from the community's religious leaders.
Early this year, pastors who opposed the measure tried to gather enough signatures to trigger a referendum ballot or legislation that would have repealed the registry. They came up short.
Then, in August, the Alliance Defense Fund, an Arizona-based opponent of same-sex rights, filed a taxpayers lawsuit to shut down the registry. The suit was dismissed in November.
Registration costs $55. Couples must prove they share a residence and responsibility for each other's well being. Aside from the symbolism, supporters see the registry as a potential tool for same-sex couples who seek privileges that are typically reserved for the married.
"I think it did exactly what we wanted," said Sue Doerfer, executive director of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Community Center of Greater Cleveland. "It gave couples a chance to register and sent a message that Cleveland was open and welcoming to LGBT couples."
-- Henry J. Gomez