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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
March 3, 2006

Cleveland city council votes opposition to adoption ban


Cleveland--Ohio�s proposed anti-gay adoption and foster parenting ban �is more about hate and less about children,� said Ward 17 councilor Matt Zone as he presented a resolution opposing to the state bill at the February 27 city council meeting.

�It�s personal for me,� said Zone, as he told about his large extended family with adopted children and his gay brother, Marty.

Zone said Marty, six years older, became his mentor after their father�s death in 1974, and was the one who stepped into their father�s shoes.

Marty Zone, who was an assistant to comedian David Letterman, died of AIDS in 1993.

Matt Zone lambasted �hard line Republicans� for coming up with a bill that would have made his own family situation impossible.

The proposed ban, H.B. 515, was introduced last month by State Rep. Ron Hood of Ashville and eight co-sponsors, all Republicans whose records are among the most anti-gay in the general assembly. It seeks to ban adoption and foster parenting by gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Ohioans, or placement of a child in any household where a GLBT person lives, including another child.

Zone pointed out that there are thousands of Ohio children in need of homes and that the bill undermines the �best interest of the child� standard applied in Ohio since 1990.

�I wish Marty was here to adopt and care for them, as he did for his brother Matt,� said Zone.

Openly gay freshman councilor Joe Santiago of Ward 14 called Hood�s bill �ridiculous,� telling council members that if passed, the bill would not have allowed his family to adopt or foster parent because he is gay.

Zone and Santiago were joined by eleven other members offering the resolution: Joe Cimperman of Ward 13, Patricia Britt of Ward 6, Jay Westbrook of Ward 18, Anthony Brancatelli of Ward 12, Robert White III of Ward 2, Phyllis Cleveland of Ward 5, Roosevelt Coats of Ward 10, Kevin Kelley of Ward 16, Brian Cummins of Ward 15, Dona Brady of Ward 19, and council president Martin Sweeney of Ward 20.

The resolution puts council on record saying that the ban is �discriminatory and violates both the Ohio and United States Constitutions,� and that �sexual orientation is not a standard by which to measure whether a person will be a good parent.� It passed with 19 votes and was signed by Mayor Frank Jackson.

Joining the sponsors in the affirmative vote were members Zachary Reed of Ward 3, Kenneth Johnson of Ward 4, Fannie Lewis of Ward 7, Sabra Pierce Scott of Ward 8, Kevin Conwell of Ward 9, Mike Polensek of Ward 11, and Mike Dolan of Ward 21.

The measure passed unanimously among the 19 members present.� Only Nina Turner of Ward 1 and Britt were absent.

Zone called the event �historic� if for no other reason than Santiago�s statement that he�s gay in an open council meeting.

�Nothing like that has ever happened in Cleveland before,� said Zone.

Ohio House Speaker Jon Husted, who is himself adopted, has said that the bill will not move out of committee this year. However, bills can be reintroduced����������� in each session until they pass. The state�s anti-gay �defense of marriage act� went nowhere for six years, then passed within days.

Activists also warn that the measure could become a ballot initiative, used like 2004�s marriage ban amendment to get anti-gay voters to the polls where they will support a like-minded candidate.

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