Friday, August 28, 2009

More details about the legal challenge to Cleveland's domestic registry

08/28/09 Gay People's Chronicle / ADF Alliance Alert:

On May 13th, Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) attorney James ("Jim") Campbell told that "[t]he city of Cleveland has enacted a domestic partner registry which violates" Ohio Const. Art. XV, sec. 11. Adopted in the 2004 election, this constitutional amendment bans not only same-sex marriage, but also
a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance or effect of marriage.
The domestic registry confers no legal benefits, protections or responsibilities; by Equality Ohio's account, it is "simply" a database of names of registered couples. According to, Cambell claims that "domestic partnerships are generally equal to marriage."

On May 7th, ADF announced that
ADF-allied attorney [David R. Langdon] sent a letter Thursday to City of Cleveland Law Director Robert J. Triozzi, asking him to stop the city’s newly enacted "domestic partnership registry."
Triozzi did not meet ADF's demands, and on August 12th, Langdon, with ADF attorneys Jim Campbell and Brian Raum, filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Cleveland Taxpayers for the Ohio Constitution. The case is Cleveland Taxpayers for the Ohio Constitution v. Cleveland (Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case No. CV-09-701308).

Gay People's Chronicle reports on the plaintiff, Langdon, the origins of the case, and a 2007 precedent that appears to undermine it - State v. Carswell, 114 Ohio St.3d 210, 2007-Ohio-3723, 871 N.E.2d 547. Attorney Chris Geidner of Law Dork has offered his assessment of the likely impact of Carswell. To learn more about the case, readers might wish to consider an article and podcast by law professor Marc Spindelman, of Moritz College. I have also offered Professor John Culhane's conjecture on why ADF might, by its lights, consider the opportunity "good lawyering."

As Gay People's Chronicle reveals, Langdon wrote the constitutional amendment, and filed a lawsuit before its adoption to challenge a similar domestic registry in Cleveland Heights. And what is Cleveland Taxpayers for the Ohio Constitution? It looks like a front organization created for the purpose of the Cleveland lawsuit:
The taxpayer in the latest suit is Dorothy McGuire of Cleveland, whose Berea Road residence is also the address of the group she represents, Cleveland Taxpayers for the Ohio Constitution. In the suit, Langdon described the group as “an unincorporated association, several members of which are taxpayers and residents of the city.” McGuire was one of the people circulating petitions to force a vote on the registry earlier this year. She was gathering signatures on Public Square at a National Day of Prayer event on May 7, the same day the registry opened. Nothing has come of the petitions, so far. McGuire told the Chronicle that day that she is a member of St. Vincent de Paul Church.

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