Lambda Legal Applauds Court Decision Upholding Cleveland Domestic Partner Registry

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"The court's decision makes clear that there is no comparison between a domestic partner registry and marriage."
October 1, 2010
Christopher Clark

"This is one step forward for loving and committed same-sex couples in Cleveland." 

(Cleveland, October 1, 2010)—In a unanimous decision, the Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth Appellate District, upheld a lower court's dismissal of a lawsuit brought by an antigay group that attempted to strip away the newly enacted domestic partnership registry for same-sex couples and their families.

Citing the friend-of-the-court brief filed by Lambda Legal, the court wrote:

"The domestic partner registry bestows upon domestic partners, like married persons, the legal right of being registered and recognized as a domestic unit. This legal recognition, in and of itself, is meaningful to the domestic partners. However, as stated in the Lambda's amicus brief, the term "'domestic partner' completely lacks the social and emotive resonance of 'husband' and 'wife.'" Domestic partnerships are not given the same respect by society as a married couple, and they share none of marriage's history and traditions."

"Antigay groups like the Alliance Defense Fund are using the court's time to bring mean-spirited attacks on laws like this that simply recognize that same-sex couples exist and are part of the community. The court's decision makes clear that there is no comparison between a domestic partner registry and marriage, and no conflict with the state constitutional amendment barring same-sex couples from marriage," said Christopher Clark, Senior Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal's Midwest Regional Office based in Chicago. "This is one step forward for loving and committed same-sex couples in Cleveland."

The state passed a constitutional amendment in 2004 that prohibits marriage for same-sex couples in Ohio and bars recognition of any legal status that approximates marriage. Last year, the Cleveland City Council voted to create a registry for same-sex couples. It is believed that many employers use this registry as a basis for determining eligibility for health insurance and other company benefits provided to domestic partners.

Alliance Defense Fund, an antigay legal group, filed a lawsuit against the city arguing that the domestic partnership registry is a violation of the constitutional amendment barring marriage equality. The suit was filed on August 12 on behalf of the antigay group Cleveland Taxpayers for the Ohio Constitution.

Lambda Legal argued in its brief that, although domestic partnership registries are created by cities and other governmental entities to show their commitment to equality for same-sex couples and their families, the registries are by no means a substitute for marriage and are not barred by Ohio's Constitution.

Christopher Clark, Senior Staff Attorney, is handling the case for Lambda Legal. He is joined by Timothy Carraher, Affiliated Attorney.

The case is City of Cleveland ex rel. Cleveland Taxpayers for the Ohio Constitution, et al. v. City of Cleveland.


Contact: Jonathan Adams; 646-752-3251; [email protected]

Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.


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