Box Turtle Bulletin

Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
This article can be found at:
Latest Posts

Posts for September, 2013

City to Gay Bar Owner, Site of Anti-Gay Attacks: Stop Calling 911

Jim Burroway

September 12th, 2013

Cocktails Lounge, on Cleveland’s West Side, has been the scene of at least two designated hate crimes in less than a week and at least six attacks on patrons since spring. Two weeks ago, Jared Fox was surrounded by a gang of juveniles, beaten and robbed while they shouted anti-gay epithets. These things are the kind of attacks that can happen in any American city, but they’re happening in Cleveland now, where the City’s Director of Public Safety, Martin Flask, is on the case: he sent a letter to the bar’s owners demanding that they stop calling 911 so often:

Our records indicate from September 02, 2012 through September 01, 2013 Cleveland Police Officers and/or Dog warden have been dispatched and responded to your property located at 9208 Detroit Avenue inns for various Calls for service. Repeated calls to the same property place an and inappropriate burden on the taxpayers of the City of Cleveland and on our safety forces. The estimated cost for the city safety forces to respond to your property is approximately $100.00 per call for service.

l am confident that we share the same goal and that you will take the necessary steps to eliminate the repeated calls for police services to your property. Therefore, within 10 days of the date of this letter, you will be required to submit your action plan to the First District Neighborhood Police Commander (623-5105), outlining your strategy to eliminate the problems at this location.

Cocktails Lounge manager James Foster was appalled at the letter.

Foster said what’s most frustrating is that the majority of those police calls didn’t have to do with the lounge itself. Instead, managers and patrons called about incidents happening near the lounge.

“It’s your neighborhood bar, everybody knows everybody, everybody’s got nicknames,” said Mary Wishar, a regular at Cocktails who describes the lounge as friendly and safe.

Outrage erupted on social media yesterday after the letter went public. City Councilman Jay Westbrook, who represents the ward where Cocktails is located, said, “Just when we thought we were turning a corner with these incidents, the safety director shot us in the foot.” Mayor Frank Jackson ordered Flask to rescind the letter:

“If I had to do it over again, I would have handled this particular situation differently,” Flask said. “After reviewing this issue with Mayor (Frank) Jackson, he has directed me to rescind the letter and instead set up a meeting with the District Commander and the property owners so that we can work together to address the issues raised by the calls for service to 9208 Detroit Avenue.”

Lyons could not be reached for comment Wednesday night. The letter said 13 police reports were filed over the one-year period for everything from fights to robbery. None of the calls, Flask said, involved hate crimes currently being investigated by police.

“(I)t is an early warning letter that the Department of Public Safety sends to property owners to help prevent a location from becoming a ‘nuisance property'” Flask said. “224 such letters have already been sent to various property owners this year.”

Cleveland was selected to host the Gay Games in 2014.

Prop 8 Rallies Planned

Jim Burroway

August 4th, 2010

As Timothy mentioned yesterday afternoon, we received word that a decision in Perry v. Schwarzenegger is expected this afternoon between 1:00 and 3:00 pm (PDT). Already, Prop 8 supporters have already filed a request for stay of judgment pending appeal, in case Judge Walker strikes down Prop 8. If granted, this would prevent any marriages taking until the Court of Appeals hears the case.

Meanwhile, a large number of rallies are planned in California and across the U.S., forty so far and counting. Rex Wockner is keeping up to date with the latest additions.

Pastor: Religious Leaders Opposing Cleveland’s Domestic Partnerships “Confuse Religion With Faith”

Jim Burroway

January 11th, 2009

Rev. Kenneth W. Chalker, senior pastor of First United Methodist Church in Cleveland, as also weighed in on Rev. C. Jay Matthews’ attempts to overturn Cleveland’s toothless Domestic Partnerships. He says that Matthews and others are confusing religion with faith:

It is not unlike the pastors 150 years ago who proclaimed the Bible’s endorsement of slavery as a legitimate enterprise, argued that there was no valid marriage between slaves, and therefore no reason to recognize loving relationships between slaves or recognize, in a legal way, their children.

It is not unlike a number of leading pastors in Birmingham, Ala., who joined together in 1963 to give biblically endorsed reasons why the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was out of line and moving too fast with his advocacy for civil rights and the elimination of legal segregation based on race and skin color.

It is all the result of confusing religion with faith.

Pastor Opposes Cleveland’s Domestic Partnership Registry With No Benefits

Jim Burroway

January 11th, 2009

Ever since we learned that Cleveland passed a Domestic Partnership Registry last month — the one which proved extremely controversial among some council members, the one that is still so controversial that Rev. C. Jay Matthews of Mount Sinai Baptist Church is trying to overturn it — we’ve been trying to figure out what that registry provides. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Connie Schultz, it’s not much at all:

The registry just guarantees that unmarried couples with none of the legal rights of marriage can pay the city a fee to document that they are unmarried couples with none of the legal rights of marriage.

It’s as if Cleveland City Council said, “Look, we know that all committed adult couples should be equal in the eyes of the law, but we just can’t bring ourselves to say that out loud, ‘kay?”

Now, the registry does arm gays and lesbians with a defense, sort of, against greedy relatives, self-righteous clergy and all sorts of official-looking people who think only heterosexuals should have the legal right to marry, no matter how many times it takes them to get it right. To be specific, the registry gives homosexual couples a piece of paper to call their own.

For example, let’s say you’re gay and weeping over the body of your recently deceased partner when her parents show up at the funeral and demand the keys to the house you shared for the last 20 years. If the house was in her name only, I’m afraid you’re still headed for a rental with a futon, but now you can whip out that sheet of domestic registry paper, wave it wildly and shout, “We are too a couple. Says so right here on this document.”

Much better, don’t you think?

This is what the fuss is all about?

Group Tries To Derail Cleveland’s Domestic Partnership Registry

Jim Burroway

January 9th, 2009

Last month, we learned that Cleveland was about to offer a Domestic Partnership registry. Now we learn that opponents are determined to derail the measure.

Rev. C. Jay Matthews of Mount Sinai Baptist Church failed in his first attempt to gather 11,000 signatures by Wednesday to force a citywide vote on the measure. He’s now focusing efforts on what is called an ordinance by initiative. It requires 5,000 signatures to submit legislation to city council for a vote. If the City Council doesn’t pass it, it goes to the voters. Matthews hopes to be able to submit the legislation by April.

Cleveland Enacts Domestic Partnership Registry

Jim Burroway

December 9th, 2008

Cleveland’s city council voted 13-7 to provide a domestic partnership registry. The legislation goes to mayor Frank Jackson, who plans to sign the registry into law. It will go into effect 120 days after the mayor signs the bill. According to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, the vote wasn’t an easy one for several council members:

But several council members reported intense pressure from local pastors, who oppose domestic partner benefits on religious grounds. At one point Monday afternoon, a rattled Kevin Conwell, a co-sponsor of the legislation, seemed ready to change his position. “I had more than 70 calls over the weekend,” Conwell said. Conwell ultimately voted with the majority.

…Councilman Zack Reed, who voted against the registry, said he was lobbied by his pastor, the Rev. Marvin McMickle. Also voting against the registry were Councilwoman Sabra Pierce Scott, Councilman Roosevelt Coats. Pierce Scott said prior to the vote that she had concerns about how the legislation was worded. At a committee hearing, Coats cited biblical passages that he said denounce homosexuality. “Many of you may disagree,” he said. “That’s fine. These aren’t my words. These words are in the Bible.”

Cleveland’s domestic partnership registry seeks to steer clear of Ohio’s draconian constitutional amendment banning all forms of recognition for same-sex couples by being open to same-sex and opposite-sex couples.

Cleveland May Offer Token Couple Registration

Timothy Kincaid

November 10th, 2008

Those who crafted the Ohio ban on gay marriage did so with the intention of excluding gay couples from even the most rudimentary of protections.

Only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this state and its political subdivisions. This state and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance or effect of marriage.

While some anti-gay advocates will loudly proclaim that they have no problem with civil unions, those who sought and achieved the ban in Ohio had no such pretenses. Their prime effort was to ensure that ALL concessions, be they hospital visitation or property rights or any other small conveniences no matter how benighn, be denied to the gay citizens of the state.

Nevertheless, the cities of Cleveland Heights and Toledo have created registries for same-sex or opposite-sex couples. Though such registries have no requirements on any entity, public or private, and provide no benefits, they are useful for employees of those companies that offers domestic partner benefits. It provides an easy and convenient method by which to prove qualification.

Now some councilmen in Cleveland are hoping that their city will join them. From the Plain Dealer

The registry would be nonbinding, meaning employers and other organizations would not be forced to extend health care benefits to unwed couples or allow visits with a hospitalized partner. But supporters of the plan are hopeful it might encourage the allowance of such rights.

Councilman Joe Cimperman, a sponsor of the idea, said a registry would help Cleveland as it bids to host the 2014 Gay Games, a sporting event with a global audience. In addition, fees paid by those who register could pour some much-needed cash into city coffers.

“We are trying to show that we are a serious city when it comes to tolerance,” said Cimperman, who with other colleagues is expected to introduce legislation next week.

We wish them success.

(hat tip Stefano)