This week's issue of CityBeat features an article about the grassroots effort last year to have the city of Cincinnati establish a Domestic Partnership Registry.
Ultimately, Equality Cincinnati (EC) became part of the effort, assumed responsibility for the registry and then delayed trying to have one officially enacted through City Council.
Instead, EC created its own symbolic registry, with no connection to City Hall.
The article outlines the reason for EC's decision but, due to space constraints, we couldn't print the full response from Kristin Shrimplin, its board president.
Here is Shrimplin's complete statement:
Equality Cincinnati is local, grassroots organization whose mission is to work for full equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in Greater Cincinnati and to prevent discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It’s important to note that we are local and grassroots because it underscores our values of where our attention is and what issues we focus on.
Furthermore, and this is important, as a grassroots organization, we welcome, encourage, and need community involvement, ideas, and mobilizing support to carry out our mission. Equality Cincinnati is about equal, inclusive and fair rights for the LGBTQ community. One aspect of our focus has been marital parity because it is an issue of equality.
As a grassroots organization, we have had to strategize on the best way to address marital parity and secure it for members in our community. This is the rationale behind our strategy for not pursuing the registry through City Council:
• In 2009, there was ongoing litigation against Cleveland’s registry and we expected that if we pushed our Council to begin a registry, Cincinnati would likewise be sued.
• With no final result at that point (2009), it was unclear whether we’d win or lose that litigation.
• We didn’t find it strategically wise to get our supporters on City Council into expensive litigation with an unclear outcome at a time when the City was facing a deficit and the end result would be a symbolic registry that provides no substantive rights to any gay or lesbian person. If a registry provided substantive rights of any kind, we may have decided differently.
• Therefore, Equality Cincinnati started a Domestic Partner Registry that provides the same symbolic value, but without putting our allies on Council at risk for little benefit to the community. Furthermore, our Registry, while it has no legal rights attached to it, it has social justice components in that as a grassroots LGBTQ organization, we are supporting, acknowledging, and honoring the legitimacy of the relationships in our community. When possible lawsuits and expensive legal fees are barriers at this time, we do not stop in our commitment to supporting our community. We turn to creative and non-traditional means and we take ownership of a registry. This has resonated with LGBTQ members as we have secured over 125 partnerships (250 signatures) just during two days of Pride alone. We are fully launching the registry through an online process and hosting an event later in the year around it. We are tracking all of the data.
Equality Cincinnati welcomes ideas that anyone has on this issue and encourages opportunities to dialogue about this further. Please feel free to contact us via our Web site or via our Facebook page. We can then return all inquiries quickly.