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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
February 17, 2006

Couples are turned
away at courthouses

Toledo--A media frenzy surrounded the Freedom to Marry Week demonstration at the Lucas County Courthouse on February 14, where two same-sex couples applied for marriage licenses.

According to Equality Toledo executive director Kim Welter, �It was a very successful event.�

She noted that three television news crews showed up to publicize the protest, as well as a reporter from the daily Toledo Blade.

Welter and her partner Merri Bame were one couple, and a male couple who preferred not to be named also applied for a marriage license.

�I�d never done this before and was kind of nervous about it, but it was a lot more positive an experience than I thought,� she said, noting that one of the high points of the day for her was the presence of her father, who drove up from Celina, Ohio.

She said that the clerk who handled both couples was very officious and moved them through the process quickly before explaining that Ohio law forbade granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

�She was just very professional about it,� Welter noted.

About 50 people gathered outside the courthouse bearing placards and special candy hearts bearing messages relating to the legalization of same-sex marriage.

Welter was heartened to see a group of students from Lourdes College take part in the demonstration for a class project on same-sex marriage, as well as people from the American Civil Liberties Union and a local Socialist group.

Couples are asked to leave

In Columbus, a group of five couples were asked to leave the clerk�s office by Franklin County Probate Court Magistrate Sam Peppers III, who said that they were interfering with the business of the office.

Equality Ohio executive director Lynne Bowman was incredulous.

�Gosh, I didn�t realize we weren�t allowed to apply for marriage licenses, she said sarcastically.

Anyone can apply for a marriage license. State law and the marriage ban amendment only forbid clerks from granting one to a same-sex couple.

In Columbus, two female couples and three male couples tried to apply for licenses before Peppers� intervention.

Another event was held in Montgomery County, organized by Diversity Dayton, but details on that were not available by press time.

In Cleveland, where a very large demonstration was held in front of the Cuyahoga County Courthouse two years ago, the LGBT Community Center issued a day-by-day action plan for the entirety of Freedom to Marry Week, February 12 to 18, with different actions each day. The week culminates with reporting back to the center on Saturday, so center staff had received no feedback by press time.

The week�s events across the state were coordinated by Equality Ohio, Ohio Freedom to Marry, Diversity Dayton, Equality Toledo and the Cleveland LGBT Community Center.

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