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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
May 6, 2005

Forging new strength from setbacks is a recurring theme at HRC dinner

Cleveland--�Rising above catastrophe is what we do best,� was the message delivered by actor and activist Alec Mapa to the 550 people at the Human Rights Campaign�s Cleveland fundraising dinner April 30.

Mapa appears in the television sitcom Half and Half and writes a political column in the Advocate called the �Minority Report.� He drew comparisons between the gay community�s response to AIDS in the 1980s and the political crisis since the national election of 2004.

Mapa noted that San Francisco supervisor Harvey Milk�s 1978 assassination �was meant to silence and intimidate us, when all it really did was invigorate our presence in politics.�

The theme of rising up from the election of George W. Bush and the passage of Ohio�s marriage ban amendment in order to develop new community strength was echoed by all the speakers and presenters.

�In four years, I will still be gay,� said Mapa, �and Bush will be gone.�

Equality Award winner Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, who represents Cleveland�s� east side and eastern suburbs, also spoke.�

�They talk about God, but don�t act godly,� she said of Bush, congressional Republicans, and the religious right of Ohio.

Later, Tubbs Jones added, �They speak of God who protects people, but only those who act and think like them.�

Speaking of her own church involvement, Tubbs Jones said, �During the campaign, I engaged ministers, many of whom have been my friends, and told them, �You�re wrong on this issue�.�

HRC Foundation Deputy Director Barb Menard praised Cincinnati�s work to make the only bright spot in last November�s election: repealing the anti-gay Charter Article 12. She also praised the 2003 initiative to create the Cleveland Heights domestic partner registry as another positive development.

Menard said HRC was proud of the fight mounted against Issue 1 in Ohio. HRC contributed nearly $400,000 to that effort.

�[Issue 1] is the death rattle of a dying dragon,� said emcee Connie Schultz, �and truth is the might sword that will bring him down.�

Schultz, a Plain Dealer columnist, won the 2004 Pulizer Prize for commentary. Among the winning columns was her November 15 rebuke of Issue 1 called �Ohio pulls away the welcome mat.�

�Here�s why I think the news about Issue 1 is better than you think,� said Schultz. �I get the reader mail.�

Schultz, who is married to Rep. Sherrod Brown, was ribbed on stage by her co-emcee and Plain Dealer colleague, columnist Regina Brett, about the possibility of a lesbian kiss on stage.

�Cleveland hasn�t had one yet,� said Brett.

The duo were introduced by Cleveland Mayor Jane Campbell, who received a standing ovation and calls of �We love you, Jane.�

Dinner co-chair Thom Rankin said final figures were not yet available, but that they were expecting the dinner to bring in about 20% more than last year�s event, which raised $50,000.

Fourteen students attended the event from Avon Lake High School, Shaker Heights High School, and the Baldwin Wallace College gay straight alliance.

In addition to Reps. Brown and Tubbs Jones, elected officials at the dinner included State Meps. Mike Skindell, Tim DeGeeter, Dale Miller and Shirley Smith; Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy DiMora and Auditor Frank Russo; Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judges Stuart Friedman, Carolyn Friedland and Bridget McCafferty; Cleveland City Council members Joe Cimperman, Zach Reed, Jay Westbrook and council president Frank Jackson who is also a candidate for mayor; and Parma mayor Dean Di Piero and council member Stuart Boyda.


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