Written by Anthony Moujaes
On the steps of Cleveland City Hall on a bright afternoon, a group of United Church of Christ staff and members were among the crowd of about 50 people gathered to support LGBT equality and celebrate a pair of Supreme Court decisions.
The court ruled on Wednesday, June 26, in two highly-anticipated cases that the federal Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional because it denied benefits to legally married same-sex couples. Also, the court ruled it lacked proper jurisdiction to hear California's Proposition 8, which limited marriage to one man and one woman, and sent it back to the U.S. Court of Appeals with instructions to dismiss the appeal. This means that California, at least for now, can recognize same-sex marriages.
"I am overjoyed with the decisions, in part because my partner and I have been together for 24 years. Even though we're registered as domestic partners, that we still don't have the same equal rights as other married couples," said the Rev. Craig Hoffman, a member of Archwood UCC in Cleveland. "It was important for me to go express my support of the decision and let others know in the area that there are clergy and churches who support the decision of the court."
Though Ohio does not recognize same-sex marriages, Cleveland area resident Judy Benson was among a group who thinks full marriage equality is on the horizon. "It's moving along, and things will change in the next couple of years," she said. "The ball is rolling down the hill."
During the rally, UCC national staff stood on the steps of City Hall holding a banner proclaiming their witness for justice and equality. High above from a flagpole on the building, the rainbow LGBT flag flew beneath the American flag.
"The fact that we get to see our flag flying is because this was a group effort. Our allies came together to support this," said Todd Saporito, president of Cleveland Pride. Some 200 UCC members from seven local UCC congregations will participate in this year's Cleveland Pride Festival on Saturday, June 29.
Cleveland City Councilman Joe Cimperman, who has previously spoken publicly in support of LGBT issues, cautioned that Wednesday's victories came one day after the court dealt a massive blow to voting rights.
"We took a step back yesterday," Cimperman said of the ruling that part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was unconstitutional. "We have to work yesterday's wrongness to rightness, so that