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Published: Saturday, 2/14/2004

Couple thwarted in yearly license try

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
John, left, and Tom Meinecke walk into the Lucas County Courthouse to apply for a marriage license. John, left, and Tom Meinecke walk into the Lucas County Courthouse to apply for a marriage license.
KING / BLADE Enlarge

Tom Meinecke and his partner, John Meinecke, made a futile attempt last year to get a marriage license at the Lucas County Courthouse.

The Toledo men returned to the landmark building yesterday and went through the same process, only to be turned away again by a clerk in the marriage license bureau.

But the symbolic effort of the Old West End couple was more significant in view of the legislative debate in Massachusetts to enact a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as a heterosexual institution in that state.

The couple made a vow last year to show up at the marriage license office each year on Valentine s Day until gays and lesbians are afforded the same rights as heterosexual couples.

“We will always stand firm for the right to choose our partners in life. This is not about special rights or special treatment,” Tom Meinecke said after they left the second-floor office empty-handed.

John and Tom have been partners for four years. They made a same-gender commitment during a ceremony three years ago, and John then legally changed his last name, which was Hatcher, to Meinecke.

The gay marriage issue reached its zenith in recent weeks as the Massachusetts Supreme Court issued a 4-3 opinion calling for same-sex marriages as of May 17. Legislators in that state narrowly defeated a compromise amendment that would have defined marriage as a heterosexual institution, but also would have allowed same-sex couples.

In Ohio, Gov. Bob Taft recently signed a bill that put into law that same-sex marriages were against the state s strong public policy. The anti-gay marriage bill was viewed as among the most sweeping bans on same-sex marriages.

Opponents said the law will hurt Ohio in attracting business and jobs and portrays the state as intolerant.

“[The governor] has opened the door for discrimination and prejudice for gays and lesbians by enacting this law,” John Meinecke said.

The Rev. Edwin Yates, pastor of a New Life Metropolitan Community Churches, accompanied the couple to the courthouse. Mr. Yates said any compromise that would substitute civil unions for legal marriage would not be acceptable to the gay and lesbian communities.

“Separate but equal, which is never equal. That same battle was fought years ago to end segregation,” Mr. Yates said.

In Michigan, two Toledo women were denied a marriage license when they applied at the Oakland County Courthouses in Pontiac. Jennifer and Erin Adriel, who were married six months ago in Canada, wanted their partnership to be recognized in that state.



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