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Over half of council to march in Pride parade
A dozen Cleveland council members to be grand marshals
Cleveland--This year, Cleveland Pride will have a dozen grand marshals for the parade and festival on June 21--all Cleveland city council members.
The selection reflects events in December, when the Cleveland City Council passed a domestic partner registry, which takes effect May 7.
The Pride committee selected twelve of the thirteen city council members who voted for the registry, out of 21 total. The only missing one is council president Martin Sweeney.
Pride president Todd Saporito said that the group chose to include only the rank-and-file council members because they were the ones who had put in the work to get the measure passed.
The grand marshals are almost a who�s who of LGBT-supportive council members, including the city�s only openly gay council member.
They include Dona Brady of Ward 19, Anthony Brancatelli of Ward 12, Joe Cimperman of Ward 13, Kevin Conwell of Ward 9, Brian Cummins of Ward 14, Martin Keane of Ward 21, Kevin Kelley of Ward 16, Mamie Mitchell of Ward 6, Michael Polensek of Ward 11, Joe Santiago of Ward 14, Jay Westbrook of Ward 18 and Matt Zone of Ward 17.
Conwell and Mitchell were the only African American council members to vote for the partner registry. Two other East Side councilors who voted against the measure said that they were pressured by local pastors to vote against it.
�These city council members deserve to be recognized for voting affirmatively for Cleveland�s domestic partner registry,� Cimperman said. �We are truly honored to be acknowledged by Cleveland Pride. We are proud of our stance in helping the LGBT community to make progress in its pursuit of equal rights.�
Cimperman was one of the partner registry�s champions in council.
For Joe Santiago, council�s only openly gay member and only the second Latino to sit on the body, it�s a triple honor, since it will be the third time he has been asked to be a grand marshal.
�It�s a great honor,� he said. �People don�t understand the importance of serving as a grand marshal. It�s very exciting.�
�My colleagues and I have been working diligently to make Cleveland a progressive city for all people,� he continued. �Now is the time to come together to improve our city all its residents.�
Columbus Pride will be having their parade on the same day as Cleveland for the first time since 2000. Organizers have sent out invitations to prospective grand marshals but have not yet received replies, said coordinator Jan Adams-Richards.
The two festivals are working closely together this year to present a weekend of Pride festivities in northeast and central Ohio. Columbus Pride is providing reciprocity for those who attend Cleveland Pride: Admission to the weekend-long Columbus Pride festival is free with a Cleveland Pride wristband.
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