Cleveland as a leader in gay rights

Cleveland is your ordinary mid-western town in a state (Ohio) that is not known for its liberal views on social issues. But I must say that when it comes to LGBT rights, it has shown itself to be well ahead of some cities that have ostensibly more liberal reputations.

The latest example was with Monday’s St Patrick’s Day parades. Parade organizers in New York and Boston had forbidden marchers to display any explicitly gay message and this had resulted in the mayors of those two cities not taking part in the marches and beer companies Sam Adams, Heineken, and Guinness withdrawing their sponsorship.

But the Cleveland parade organizers were completely comfortable with a group of marchers displaying a banner advertising the Ninth Gay Games that will be taking place August 9-14 this year in the city. This was the first explicitly gay contingent in the city’s history of such parades and particularly notable because the application to take part was submitted after the deadline, so parade organizers had a legitimate reason to reject them but made allowances. Spectators also clapped and applauded the marchers along the route.

Schmotzer thanked the St. Patrick’s Day parade organizing committee, who was unable to reached for comment, for allowing them to participate. He said the group’s record-making march was “a perfect statement” to the city’s progress on LGBT issues in light of the Gay Games coming in August.

“The Gay Games have changed this community,” Schmotzer said. “People have embraced the Gay Games coming here in a way that five or 10 years ago, I don’t know that they would have.”

As far back as in 2008, Cleveland set up a domestic partner registry for both same-sex and opposite sex couples, thus trying to give them at least some recognition and rights in a state that had in 2004 passed a constitutional amendment saying that only a man and a woman can get married.

Nice going, Cleveland!


  1. Jim H. says

    Personally, I don’t consider Cleveland an ordinary mid-western town. It’s quite a bit different from Cincinnati, Indianapolis, St. Louis, etc. To me, it feels like an anti-conservative enclave, like a “Portland of the mid-west.” At least, the city proper feels this way to me. I don’t get into the suburbs much.

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