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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
April 8, 2005

New coalition works to pass rights, repeal Issue 1

Cleveland--The day after Ohioans approved one of the broadest anti-marriage amendments in the nation, Lesbian-Gay Community Service Center executive director Sue Doerfer was on the phone, contacting other organizations in the area to mobilize against the amendment and to promote LGBT-inclusive equal rights laws.

A meeting of the groups, about a week after Issue 1 passed last fall, resulted in the Equality Coalition. Similar groups also formed in other parts of the state, working on the ground to serve as a voice for the LGBT community to legislators and the public at large. Partnering with the new statewide organization Equality Ohio, these groups hope to propel the state into the 21st century, ensuring justice for all Ohioans.

While the coalition is currently comprised mostly of representatives of the 20 organizations and groups that signed on, the hope is that members of the public at large will attend meetings and get involved.

�One of our goals for the coalition is to flesh out and foster new leaders within the LGBT community,� Doerfer said. �Since its inception, we have had student groups, interested community members and others attend our meetings. We also encourage participation in our five working committees.�

Those committees are Action/Events, which plans political actions and trainings, Public Awareness, Law/Legal, which works with attorneys fighting to limit the effects of the amendment and those interested in law, Grassroots Organizing and Fundraising/Membership. There is also the overall working group, which meets at general meetings, and the steering committee.

The score of groups that signed on already represent some of the most potent progressive forces in Northeast Ohio,and cover a broad spectrum of people, including BlackOut Unlimited, the National Organization for Women Ohio chapter, the AIDS Taskforce of Cleveland, Cleveland Pride, the National Center for Community and Justice, the American Civil Liberties Union, Soulforce and the American Friends Service Committee, the political arm of the Quakers, to name a few.

A college LGBT and allies groups has already joined the coalition, along with a high school gay-straight alliance.

With meetings on the third Monday of the month at 6:30 pm in the Cleveland Lesbian-Gay Center, 6600 Detroit Avenue, Doerfer is hoping to see new faces every month.

Doerfer, who was the clinical director of services at the AIDS Taskforce before being hired at the Cleveland Lesbian-Gay Center, pointed to the mission statement to explain the importance of the coalition, as well as similar organizations in other cities across the state.

�To work together for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to achieve full equality in all rights, privileges and responsibilities afforded to residents of the state of Ohio,� she quoted.

For more information on Cleveland�s Equality Coalition, see www.outforjustice.org/coalition.html.

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