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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
December 8, 2006

What a difference
two years made

Cleveland--�Whereas November 2, 2004 was a really, really bad day for us, November 8, 2006 was a really, really good day,� said Equality Ohio director Lynne Bowman on the eve of the Ohio marriage ban amendment�s second anniversary.

Bowman was talking about the benefits of organization that Ohio�s LGBT community reaped between the election that passed the amendment and the most recent one, where LGBT money and people helped usher in more tolerant officials.

The December 1 event at Bounce nightclub was hosted by the Cleveland LGBT Center as their annual meeting, and to observe World AIDS Day as well as the ban�s anniversary.

Bowman also debuted the second installment of the �Our Stories� project funded by the Equality Ohio Education Fund. Last year, the group delivered books of 100 first-person stories by LGBT and allied Ohioans to every state lawmaker.

This year, Bowman and volunteers distributed a video of LGBT citizens and families describing how Ohio laws and policies hurt them.

The 11-minute DVD was hand-delivered to every member of the Ohio legislature and executive branch--both current and newly elected--the following Tuesday.

�We believe it is important for people to know that their neighbors, family members, and co-workers are hurt by unfair laws,� Bowman said. �These stories take �gay� beyond the rhetoric and politics and make LGBT issues real and understandable for average people. The truth is we are all more alike than we are different.�

Equality Ohio hopes to change the hostile climate for LGBT people in the coming year.

The 70 people gathered in the club also heard from Russell Rich of Akron.

Rich sued his longtime employer, McDonald�s, after they forced him out of a management position after they found out he has AIDS. He won two civil jury verdicts against the fast food giant, but he admitted that he did not decide to sue them easily or quickly.

�Akron is a small town,� said Rich. �If I sue McDonald�s, it�s going to be in the newspaper. Will someone set my house on fire? What are the neighbors going to do?�

�Then,� he continued, �I decided I�m not sitting in the back of this bus. I�m driving this bus.�

Rich, who has continued telling his story, says McDonald�s still has a policy for employees with AIDS that is discriminatory and needs to be changed.

Center director Sue Doerfer then presided over a membership meeting that approved changes to the bylaws by a 9-5 vote.

The changes shift the selection of new board members from the general membership to the current board. A nominating committee made up of three board members and three active members will screen and present new board candidates.


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