The Cleveland Heights, Ohio, city council has cleared the way for voters in this Cleveland suburb to
decide if unmarried partners--both gay and straight--should be given legal recognition. The council on Monday night approved putting the measure on the November 4 ballot. Backers of the domestic-partner registry had collected signatures petitioning the council on the measure. Although registries have been created by municipal councils or state legislatures elsewhere, Cleveland Heights residents would be the first to vote on the issue, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force said. If the measure passes, domestic partners could use the registry to qualify for employment benefits, inheritance rights, and hospital visitation rights.
City councilman Jimmie Hicks Jr. said he will campaign against the registry and has decided to drop his Democratic Party affiliation because he believes the party is too closely aligned with gays and lesbians. "Any positive movement, in terms of acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle, is a part of the homosexual agenda," Hicks said. Joseph Rothenberg, a Cleveland Heights resident, defended the registry. "I've been involved in the same relationship for 25 years, and I'd like it to be on record," he said. "Nobody's going to become gay because we have a domestic-partner registry."
To register, couples would show identification, sign a statement, and pay a fee. Last year Cleveland Heights became the first city in Ohio to offer health benefits to same-sex partners of city employees.