Thursday, June 7th, 2012

Gary Leitzell on LGBT equality

The Dayton City Paper, in a piece entitled “A Step Towards Equality,” features some comments by Dayton Mayor Gary Leitzell on the city’s recent passage of a domestic partnership registry, and having read the mayor’s comments, I find myself compelled to comment.

Before I say anything about what the mayor had to say, first let me say that I do appreciate his support and that of the other city commissioners on passing the domestic partnership registry. Given that polls continue to show rising public support for marriage equality, given that our president has finally evolved to the point that he is able to say publicly that he supports marriage equality, given that even in Dayton the first candidate to announce for the 2013 mayoral election says he supports marriage equality, it really would have been something for anyone on Dayton’s city commission to oppose the creation of a completely voluntary registry which no public or private body is obligated to recognize. Yes, it’s great that queers (and unmarried heterosexuals too) can now get a piece of paper from the City of Dayton recognizing their relationship, but hospitals in Dayton, for example, still are not bound by law to recognize visitation rights because of these papers. A 5-0 vote in favor of a domestic partnership registry is a step (a baby step) towards equality, but in 2012 it is not ground breaking.

Now let’s take a look at what Mayor Leitzell has to say in the DCP:

Mayor Leitzell says, firstly, “I have always supported equal rights.” Oh, really, Mr. Mayor? Then why did you, when you were running for mayor in 2008, tell me that you “have a problem with changing the legal definition of a traditional word like marriage”? I wasn’t even asking you about marriage but rather about Dayton’s non-discrimination ordinances and you, a man who we now should believe has always supported equal rights, felt compelled to say that marriage wasn’t something whose definition you’d want to change to provide equality to queers.

And if Mayor Leitzell has “always supported equal rights” for queers, we might expect to find his name on the website of the Mayors for the Freedom to Marry. Take a moment and go to that website. You’ll see the names of the mayors of Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Cleveland Heights, Columbus, East Cleveland, Lakewood, Lima, Stow, and Youngstown, Ohio, but you will not see the mayor of Dayton, Ohio listed. This is not an oversight, either, because I know that friends of mine have contacted Mayor Leitzell to ask him to add his name to this site of mayors who truly do support full equality for LGBT people.

However with Gary Leitzell it gets better. In the DCP article the mayor says secondly, “If the majority of people in North Carolina want to place extreme limitations on their citizens then it is their right to do so.” In other words, Gary Leitzell does not in fact believe in equal rights for queers. He believes that the rights of queers should be subject to the will of the majority. If the majority of voters in a jurisdiction decide that queers should not have the right to marry, then Gary Leitzell is fine with that.

Gee, thanks, Mr. Mayor. Frankly, the support that you claim to have always shown for my equality isn’t worth much.

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