Guest Blogger

Domestically Partner Registered: Why We're Doing It

Filed By Guest Blogger | May 07, 2009 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: Adam Tully, Cleveland, domestic partner, domestic partner benefits, gay marriage, John Farina, marriage equality, Ohio, same-sex marriage

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.

tully-farina.jpgAs 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.

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I went to Oberlin with Adam - congrats! And talk about progress, FINALLY, for an Ohio city.

Harper, no offense, but I think you're a bit misinformed. There are plenty of Ohio cities that have made progress on LGBT rights. First of all, Cleveland is not the only city with domestic partnership registry. Toledo offers it as well. There are at least 15 cities with non-discrimination policies regarding sexual orientation and 4 that protect against discrimination based on gender identity. There are counties that offer protection, too. Columbus is a very good city for trans people. Statewide, we have the next-of-kin registry, Strickland's protection for state employees, and we are looking at the very real possibility of the passage of the Equal Housing and Employment Act (EHEA). Sure, we've got a ways to go, but in no way can you say Cleveland's domestic partnership registration is "progress, FINALLY, for an Ohio city," as if other cities, counties, and the entire state hadn't made progress as well.

Oh, right you are. This will teach me to dash off comments haphazardly. My point was that (a) a lot of progress has been made in Ohio in the last two years since I moved away - thanks to a lot of hard work - and (b) Cleveland in particular lagged behind until recently, compared to the cities you mention. I know other cities had DP registries before Cleveland; I was simply contrasting the city with one of its closest neighbors. I'm optimistic about progress on the EHEA and a birth certificate revision law in the next year or three, and will be eagerly following the news from my former state.

I hope I didn't come off as too harsh. I do think in terms of everything else in the state, domestic partnership registration is pretty progressive. And I talked about Cbus being great, but... we don't have that.
but yeah! I find all the progress really exciting. I moved here in 2005 and it's been interesting to watch all the change that's happened even in the past couple years. I think people's attitudes are really changing (along with the general political climate).

I heard from an Equality Ohio person that if EHEA doesn't pass this year (which it really might), they are almost certain it will pass next year.

I really hope we can get working on the birth certificate issue. :/

John, congratulations to you and your partner! I hope I'll see the day when our state offers your union full equality under the law.

And you should definitely register at Target! Imagine if you lived in a state like VT, where you had civil unions and then marriage. Too bad friends and family would totally veto registering again with each legal change (at least mine would...) :D

Awww, you guys are so diabetes-inducing sweet!!! And cute. And adorable. And I need to stop fawning.

It's a pity marriage is not available. Pics of both of you all dapper in tuxedos would be delightful.

You two are a beautiful couple. I hope your "ceremony" was as delightful.

Glad to see you guest posting on the blog, John.