The 2000s

February 2000

The Miami Student placed the picture and story of students Matthew Agan’s and Levi Grooms’ marriage on the front page of the February 15th, 2000 newspaper: “Saturday, Feb. 12, marked a momentous occasion among Miami students. In a symbol of love and attention for their cause, sophomores Levi Grooms and Matthew Agan married each other at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church. With the funds of MUGLBA, Students for Peace and AWS, the marriage demonstrated commitment and follow-through with conviction to lifestyle. The fortitude and well-rounded support for the unity comes at a time of national acceptance and tolerance. The marriage of Grooms and Agan should be a beacon toward furthering state acceptance and equality in marriage rights and practices.”

June 2000

The first known civil union announcement for a Miami couple was printed in the Miamian, the alumni newsletter, in the Spring-Summer edition (Vol. 18, No. 3, Page 41): “David Greenbaum and Michael Silverman were joined in a B’rit Ahavah ceremony at Temple Israel in Omaha June 6, 1999. Both are in the computer industry and live in Lawrence, Kansas.”

August 2000

The Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, Ronald Crutcher, and the Vice President for Finance and Business Services and Treasurer, Richard Norman, issue a memo to faculty and staff on August 29, 2000 directing that faculty and staff listings will no longer include spouse names. “We have determined that listing and maintaining this information in a business directory is not essential or appropriate.” The changes are reflected in the 2000-01 university directory.

September 2000

Daniel Meyers and Stephen Sauer II enter into a Vermont Civil Union and become the first known Oxford couple to do so. Dan, an employee at Miami, applies for domestic partner benefits in the Personnel Office. His request is denied.

May 2001

Lavender Graduation begins on campus. 1809 Lambda Alumni Board members organize that the graduate had three graduates. The event was held on Western campus at the Freedom Summer memorial Amphitheater. Each grad received a lavender graduation cord and a rainbow tassel.

October 2002

On Saturday, October 19, 2002, twelve people who listed themselves as out in the National Coming Out Day ad received a hate letter via e-mail. In response to this action, Spectrum and GLEAM members took time to educate people about what happened and what’s going on, including administrators, members of the press, students, and faculty. Simultaneously, other people and groups on campus had been dealing with a cross burning in a staff member’s yard that also happened during this weekend. This was a racially motivated event regarding their biracial child. Spectrum, along with MU Solidarity, and other groups of minority students on campus joined together on Tuesday, October 22nd, 2002, at 5:00 pm behind Shriver at the reflecting pool for a No-Hate rally and protest against these actions. The rally led to a march through the streets of Oxford, ending up at the Martin Luther King Jr. Park in uptown Oxford. President Garland and Lt. Andrew Powers, from the Miami University police, issue statements condemning the hate crimes.

September 2003

The Princeton Review ranks Miami the 5th worst school in America at which to be GLBT. The Miami Student covers the story and writes an editorial urging support for our community.

September 2003

The Office of GLBT services opens in MacMillan Hall with Alan Glass, M.D. as the first director.

February 2004

President James Garland sends a letter to Gov. Taft opposing Ohio’s pending “Super-DOMA” bill, which would deny civil rights to all GLBT people and would forbid state entities from issuing domestic partner benefits to GLBT employees. Gov. Taft signs the bill anyway.

Members of Spectrum organize a student rally against the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” at the Ohio Statehouse. Representatives from Ohioans for Growth and Equality, Stonewall Columbus, State Senator Eric Fingerhut, and student leaders from throughout Ohio address a respectable crowd.

April 2004

The Miami ASG Student Senate endorses domestic partner benefits for partners of Miami employees by a vote of 33-2 with four abstentions.

June 25, 2004

Miami University start to offer health and dental insurance and other benefits to same-sex domestic partners of faculty and staff starting July 1, Miami President Jim Garland announced today (June 25) at the meeting of the university’s board of trustees. “It is clear to me that domestic partner benefits have important practical implications for the university and, specifically, for our ability to recruit and retain talented employees. I have no doubt that this modest change in our benefits package will be a tangible factor as we recruit new people to the campus in the coming years,” noted Garland. While a change in insurance benefits did not require trustee action, members of the board unanimously endorsed the change by resolution. “Having given this issue much thought and deliberation, I have come to the conclusion that in the current hiring environment, extending domestic partner benefits is necessary to recruit the very best faculty and staff possible. I support President Garland’s decision, and I would like the trustees to have an opportunity to show their support, as well,” said Chairman Fred Wall. Garland noted also that domestic partner benefits today are offered by more than 150 universities, including 75 percent of the top-ranked national universities, nearly 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies and nearly 60 percent of Fortune 100 companies. Today Ohio University trustees also endorsed a new domestic-partner benefit policy for Ohio U. employees. “The numbers are growing each year,” Garland said. “The concept has clearly moved into the mainstream, and to remain competitive I believe it is time the university responded to that reality. For many businesses and universities, and quite apart from personal convictions, health insurance for domestic partners is a business decision.” To receive the benefits for their partners, eligible faculty and staff members will be required to file an “affidavit of domestic partnership,” which certifies that the employee is in a long-term, committed relationship with his or her domestic partner and shares financial obligations and a residence with that person. Research shows that typically fewer than 0.5 percent of faculty and staff members use same-sex partner benefits if available, which would mean about 18 employees are likely to enroll for the new benefits, Garland said. Costs are predicted to be no more than $50,000-$100,000 a year. The university currently pays $22 million in insurance benefits to employees.

Autumn 2005

1809 Lambda changes its name to 1809 LBGT Alumni. 

1809 LGBT alumni names the annual $1000 scholarship after Roy Bowen Ward. 

GLBT Office becomes a part of the Office of Diversity Affairs.

November 23, 2005

GOP Lawmaker Tom Brinkman Sues Miami University To Block Gay Partner Benefits.

From a news brief filed by Lori Kurtzman, Enquirer staff writer

(The Associated Press contributed to this report):

State Rep. Tom Brinkman Jr. filed suit against Miami University on Tuesday, claiming its same-sex partnership policy violates an Ohio constitutional ban on civil unions that went into effect a year ago. Brinkman’s lawsuit, filed in the Butler County Common Pleas Court, says Miami ‘has created and recognized a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance or effect of marriage.’ Two of Brinkman’s children attend Miami. The suit notes that Brinkman, a Cincinnati Republican, ‘desires that his tax dollars and tuition payments be utilized lawfully, and not applied by the University to finance the constitutional violation challenged herein.’ Miami began offering benefits, including health and dental insurance, ticket discounts and tuition remission, to same-sex domestic partners of faculty and staff members in July 2004. In November 2004, Ohio voters passed the state Marriage Amendment, which says ‘only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this state and its political subdivisions.’ ‘Miami in particular has gone out of its way to kind of thumb its nose at the Constitution with the enactment of its domestic partner policy,’ which applies only to same-sex partners, said Brinkman’s attorney, David Langdon, a conservative activist who wrote language for the Marriage Amendment. ‘They’ve set up a structure that’s virtually identical to marriage.’ Langdon said he believes this is the first suit against a university’s domestic partnership policy since the amendment took effect. Ohio State, Cleveland State, Youngstown State and Ohio universities also offer domestic partner benefits but are not named in the suit. Miami spokesman Richard Little said Tuesday that school officials have regular contact with Brinkman but were surprised to hear about the lawsuit. Little said he has never discussed the issue with Brinkman, adding that Miami has no plans to rescind its policy. About 30 people have taken advantage of some of the benefits, Little said. Last year, school officials estimated that the cost of benefits for gay and lesbian employees would amount to less than $100,000. Miami now pays about $50 million in annual benefits for its faculty and staff members. Brinkman, also represented in the suit by the Arizona-based Christian legal group Alliance Defense Fund, seeks a declaratory judgment and injunction against the university’s domestic partnership policy, plus legal fees.

November 21, 2006

Miami U keeps partner benefits.

From a news brief filed by Janice Morse, Cincinnati Enquirer staff writer,

A yearlong court battle over benefits for the same-sex ‘domestic partners’ of Miami University employees has ended in a victory for gay- and lesbian-rights advocates. Butler County Common Pleas Court on Monday dismissed a taxpayer’s lawsuit brought by an Ohio lawmaker who opposed dental and health coverage for Miami workers’ live-in partners. State Rep. Tom Brinkman Jr., R-Cincinnati, whose two children were attending Miami, filed suit against Miami University last year. It claimed its same-sex partnership policy violates an Ohio constitutional ban on civil unions that went into effect in 2004. Other colleges and universities had said they were closely watching the case because it could have implications for them. Brinkman’s suit, supported by the Arizona-based Christian legal group Alliance Defense Fund, said he wanted his tax dollars and tuition payments “to be utilized lawfully, and not applied by the university to finance the constitutional violation challenged herein.” But in Monday’s decision, “the court has affirmed that Mr. Brinkman’s daily life is unaffected when the domestic partners of lesbian and gay university employees have health insurance and he therefore has no standing to bring a lawsuit,” said James P. Madigan, staff attorney in Chicago for Lambda Legal, a national advocacy group that intervened in the suit. Lambda Legal argued Brinkman had no standing to sue, because the university pays for its domestic partner benefits with private donations, not with tax dollars or tuition. The group also argued Brinkman had not shown that he suffered any direct impact that would be corrected if Miami University took away health and dental insurance it offers to the domestic partners of university employees. Miami began offering benefits, including health and dental insurance, ticket discounts and tuition remission, to same-sex domestic partners of faculty and staff members in July 2004. Ohio voters passed in November 2004 the state Marriage Amendment, which says “only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this state and its political subdivisions.” Lambda Legal maintained that Ohio’s constitutional amendment does not apply to the university because it concerns only marriage and does not address the legality of domestic partnership benefits. As of last year about 30 people had taken advantage of some of the benefits, school officials said. Last year, school officials estimated that the cost of benefits for gay and lesbian employees would amount to less than $100,000 – a fraction of the $50 million in annual benefits for faculty and staff members.

August 28, 2007

Same-sex benefits challenge tossed.

From a news brief filed by Dan Horn, Cincinnati Enquirer staff writer,

Miami University’s practice of offering benefits to same-sex “domestic partners” of its employees survived another court challenge Tuesday. The Ohio 12th District Court of Appeals ruled that State Rep. Tom Brinkman Jr., a Cincinnati Republican, did not have legal standing to sue the university over its benefits policy. Brinkman had argued the same-sex partnership policy violates an Ohio constitutional ban on civil unions that went into effect in 2004. As a taxpayer and the parent of two Miami students, Brinkman said he had a legal right to sue. The appeals court, however, upheld a lower court decision last year that dismissed Brinkman’s lawsuit. Both courts concluded Brinkman did not have standing as a taxpayer because the school uses private donations to reimburse the state for tax dollars spent on its domestic partner benefits. Brinkman cannot demonstrate any injury … based upon his status as a taxpayer,” wrote Judge James A. Brogan, who was joined in the 3-0 decision by judges James E. Walsh and H.J. Bressler. The court also found that Brinkman did not have standing to sue as the tuition-paying parent of Miami students because it’s his choice to send his children to the school. Brinkman, who declined to comment Tuesday, could appeal the decision to the Ohio Supreme Court. Brinkman’s suit was supported by the Alliance Defense Fund, an Arizona-based Christian legal organization. Another advocacy group, Lambda Legal in Chicago, intervened in support of Miami’s policy. Al Gerhardstein, one of Lambda’s lawyers, said the rulings establish that providing insurance does not constitute recognition of gay marriage, as Brinkman claimed. “If he really wants to change this, he should go through the legislature,” Gerhardstein said. “I would hope he’d have a hard time there.” Miami began offering benefits to domestic partners of employees in July 2004. School officials have said about 30 people have the benefits at a total cost of less than $100,000.

March 7, 2008

Oxford is the 15th Ohio town to pass an LGBT rights measure.

By Anthony Glassman.

Oxford, Ohio–The city that is home to Miami University is now the 15th in Ohio to bar discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and the fourth to cover gender identity. City council voted unanimously on March 4 to expand the city’s non-discrimination ordinance, less than two months after the idea was first floated in a meeting between Miami students, staff, community members and city manager Douglas R. Elliott, Jr. Leslie Morrow, a board member of Equality Ohio and coordinator of Miami’s Office of GLBT Services, noted the involvement of the school in passing the ordinance. “To be honest, students, staff and faculty have been coming to me since I’ve been in this position, talking about discrimination they’ve faced,” she said. “Last semester, there were a few acts that I thought were just over the top, and the students were fed up.” She wanted to organize swiftly on the issue because, if left too long, the outrage fades and “you end up going back and giving them your business again.” Morrow contacted university administrators, including the director of off-campus affairs, who organized the January meeting attended by Elliott. “He was just appalled by some of the things that were going on,” Morrow noted. “The next thing I know, here’s an e-mail saying, ‘Here’s the proposed change to the ordinance, what do you think?’ ” she recounted. During the hashing-out process, sex, sexual orientation and gender identity were specifically added. After Elliott put the ordinance forward, Mayor Prue Dana sponsored it in council. “People on council were adding protections,” Morrow noted in amazement. It sailed through its first reading, and on March 4 had its second reading and vote. “I didn’t expect it to go at all the way it did, and honestly it was just a great discussion between members of council, members of the community and people at the university,” she said. The measure covers employment, housing and public accommodations. It takes effect 30 days from passage, on April 3. “I think Oxford is going to send a message to people in the city and on campus that bigotry will not be accepted,” Morrow said. “I really hope that we can continue to create change and be an example to other cities and municipalities in Ohio and beyond.” “I congratulate the Oxford City Council for unanimously standing up for fairness and equality. If only every citizen of Ohio had similar protection from discrimination,” Kim Welter, Equality Ohio’s program manager of outreach and education, said. The final approval came a week after the Cleveland suburb of Shaker Heights revised its employment policies to bar discrimination by sexual orientation, gender identity or ancestry for city workers. The city already includes sexual orientation in its fair housing code for residents. Although Ohio has no state law protecting LGBT citizens from discrimination, the 15 cities that now include sexual orientation in their ordinances cover about a fifth of the state’s population. Along with Oxford’s, the measures in Toledo, Dayton and Cincinnati also cover transgender people. The other cities are Cleveland, Columbus and Canton; the college towns of Oberlin, Athens and Yellow Springs; and four other Cleveland suburbs: Lakewood, North Olmsted, East Cleveland and Cleveland Heights.

March 31, 2009

Miami to host gay pride parade.

By Katherine Kohls, The Miami Student.

Spectrum’s Awareness Week will have an addition to the usual activities this year: a gay pride parade. The parade will be the first for the Miami University community at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 7. Parade coordinator Brian McQueen said the idea originated during a workshop in early February. He said what he thought to be a farfetched idea for Miami’s campus quickly gained support and began to develop. “In my mind it was something Miami would never go for,” McQueen said. “I still expect some controversy.” According to McQueen, spectators and participants alike can look forward to a parade of celebration. McQueen said there will be music, posters, balloons and plenty of people chanting and cheering. “From pets, parents, students, faculty, gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual, drag queens, drag kings, everyone is welcome to come out and promote self-acceptance,” McQueen said. Awareness Week Chair Tommy Marzella said he wants the parade to be a visual representation of those on campus who are members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender (GLBT) and straight alliances. “It’s a great way to spread awareness and human rights to everyone,” Marzella said. Marzella said his primary expectation is to branch out to the rest of Miami’s campus and gain support. “We want the parade to be peaceful, happy and colorful,” McQueen said. According to McQueen, participants will begin to assemble at 4 p.m. at the Phi Delta Theta gates on the corner of High Street and Campus Avenue. The Parade will continue down Slant Walk, cross Spring Street and end at MacMillan Hall. McQueen said Oxford Police Department will escort the parade to prevent traffic problems as they cross Spring Street. McQueen said he got approval from the Student Activities Board to lead the parade across campus. “This is not to throw (gay pride) in people’s faces, it’s about openly celebrating who we are,” McQueen said. According to Marzella, the Alliance Picnic will take place at 5:30 p.m. April 7 in 212 MacMillan after the parade. “The Alliance Picnic is a way for allies to show their support,” Marzella said. According to Marzella, Mother Paula Jackson of Cincinnati’s Church of Our Savior will speak at the picnic. Marzella said her church supports those that are supportive of the GLBT community. “I expect the parade to be a big success,” McQueen said. “I think people are eager to make it an annual event.” Marzella said there will be poster-making parties throughout the week leading up to the parade. The first took place Monday, while the second will take place from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday in 27 MacMillan Hall.

October 23, 2009

ASG approves gender-neutral housing.

By Courtney Day.

Imagine feeling uncomfortable using residence hall restrooms or changing clothes in front of your roommate. You worry about what people on your floor would think if they discovered your gender identity doesn’t match your birth certificate. Associated Student Government (ASG) senate approved a bill Tuesday evening to support a gender-neutral housing option in certain residence halls to help students wrestling with those situations. The proposal would allow transgendered students or any students who would prefer to live with members of the opposite legal sex to select suite-style rooms in Flower, Hahne and Hepburn halls, as well as at Heritage Commons. The proposed suites were chosen because they are on already co-ed floors and have private bathrooms. If the bill comes into effect as written, students who designate the gender-neutral housing preference would be able to choose roommates with whom they feel comfortable or they could select the random roommate option which would place them with other students who select gender-neutral housing. First-year Paul Hanna, senator for Morris Hall, voiced concern that the proposed housing option could lead to potential stigma for the university. In response to Hanna’s concerns, Off-campus Senator Paul Struebing said Miami University already has a stigma. He said Miami is known for its lack of, and even disdain for, diversity. “This bill would do something to get rid of that stigma,” Struebing said. First-year Cindy Moore, senator for Dorsey and Symmes halls, said the university has a goal of increasing diversity and this is an area where that could be done. “I can’t see how allowing students to room with people they are comfortable with would bring a stigma,” Moore said. “Maybe we need to open our minds a bit.” Authors of the bill included a reference to Miami’s mission statement, which states, “As an inclusive community, Miami strives to cultivate an environment where diversity and difference are appreciated and respected.” “This is a great step toward understanding students and their needs,” said Nathan Zwayer, off-campus senator. Several senators raised concerns that the proposed option could give students a loophole to live with their romantic partner or an unfair advantage in housing preference. These are logistical issues that would have to be worked out by housing, dining and guest services before the option goes into effect. “I would hope that as we go forward, the people responsible would be aware of possible loopholes and games,” said Aaron Bly, off-campus senator. Another concern Hanna raised is the potential for a negative reaction from parents. Spectrum co-president Marissa Sims said parents whose children are in need of gender-neutral housing will likely support the option. “We are adults, and we should be able to choose who we want to live with,” Sims said. Sims said the idea of gender-neutral option would work better than a Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (GLBTQ) Living-learning Community (LLC) because an LLC might out students who would like to keep their gender or sexuality private and because it may become a target for intolerant students. It is still unclear how many students would opt for gender-neutral housing. Demere Woolway, coordinator of GLBTQ services, said she’s seen interest from students. “I do get calls regularly from concerned students who are nervous about coming out to their roommates,” Woolway said. While the bill only suggests designating gender-neutral housing for upperclass students, Off-campus Senator Matt Sinko said he feels the option may be more important for first-year students. While the option will likely only be open to upperclassmen at first because of the first-year LLC selection process, first-years may have the opportunity to request gender-neutral housing. It remains unclear how long it may take for the proposed option to come into affect. If Miami does create an option for gender-neutral housing, it will be joining more than 40 other colleges and universities in the United States who have adopted similar policies including Brown University, University of Michigan and University of Pennsylvania