Editors' Note: Born and raised on Long Island in New York, guest blogger John Farina moved to Cleveland in 1991 where he resides with his partner, Adam Tully, and their two cats, Emma and Hex. He is a fundraiser for the Cleveland Museum of Art, nonprofit and political consultant, and board member of several arts and LGBT organizations. When he's not raising money, he's spending it on art, theater, fine dining, and good drinks. John also writes for Spangle magazine.
As gay and lesbian folks all over the northeastern part of our country are making big wedding plans, their brethren here in Cleveland are, well, settling for a list. Today we will finally achieve some recognition, albeit slight, for our relationships through the city's domestic partnership registry. Like many things (aside from the Cavaliers this season), it seems Cleveland is playing catch-up once again.
The reality is, this is a big move for Cleveland and it has significance to the movement here in Ohio. After all, Ohio was among the first, if not the first, state where a piece of gay-positive legislation was put on the ballot and won (the original registry in Cleveland Heights in 2003). And now, City Council has taken the bold step of making it law in the city of Cleveland. Finally, positive news and progress for the LGBT community in Cleveland.
So, what will I be doing about this? Registering, of course. I can't say that I go into this with elation and excitement, but I do have a sense of pride about the effort. I certainly have done my part to move the "gay agenda" forward in this town, and it is nice to participate in something that isn't a protest. While I won't be the first in line, I will be there on the first day, with my partner of nearly three years, to let people know we love each other, we're committed to each other and we want it to be legally recognized.
I met Adam Tully online in the summer of 2006. I stumbled across him in what was a personally trying year. Among other things, I had found out I was HIV-positive in the spring. Along comes Adam. Bright and cheerful, smiling and cute, and just what I needed in my life. I didn't expect that it would turn into more than a few dates, but things just kept building. Before long he was moving in and we were looking for a new place of our own. Two cats later, we're still going strong.
Why is this relevant? Well, isn't this the way most relationships begin? Maybe not the exact same circumstances, but our experience is universal: the idea that many people are out there -- gay or straight -- looking for that certain someone who makes them happy and that they decide is worth committing to.
Once committed, you build a life with that person. You buy things together (we seem to buy lots of art), you argue about money (usually after we have spent too much on art), you worry about each other, you meet each other's families, and you deal with all sorts of challenges together. Anyone who looks at our relationship would plainly see it is no different than any other man and woman creating a life together. When you take it to this level, you can't help but wonder what all of the fuss is about.
Yet, for some reason, legally our relationship is different. Same-sex marriage, now legal in four states, was banned by constitutional amendment in Ohio in 2004.
But on May 7, 2009, we will take the next step in our loving, committed relationship. One that most straight people don't need to take (though straight folks who don't want to or can't be married for some reason are also encouraged and able to register). After we have both finished our volunteer obligations that day, we will walk into City Hall with our form affixed with our names and a notary's blessing (and our $55.00) and sorta, kinda, legally bind our union.
We'll then jump into our car with cans strung to the back (taken from the recycling bin) and "Just Registered" written on the window and drive off into the sunset. Touching, isn't it?
Just like every other normal, loving, committed, partnered (but banned from that basic of rights: marriage) couple in the country.
Some "Happy Registry Day" gifts would be lovely. I think we'll register at Target.
For more information about today's first day of the Cleveland Domestic Partnership Registry, visit the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland's website.