In a decision announced last Wednesday, the Supreme Court of Ohio ruled against Concerned Citizens for Medina City (CCMC) in their ongoing attempts to overturn the city’s LGBTQ+ protections.
On July 8, 2019, the Medina City Council passed fully inclusive nondiscrimination protections in housing, employment, and public accommodation, making them the 25th Ohio community to do so. Backed by the notoriously antigay Ohio Christian Alliance, an effort immediately commenced to gather signatures to place a referendum on the ballot to repeal these protections.
CCMC delivered their referendum petition to Keith H. Dirham, Medina Finance Director on July 31, 2019, who then delivered the signatures to the Medina County Board of Elections. Upon review, the Board found 260 of the 1199 signatures to be invalid, leaving the petition with 939 signatures, 44 short of the 983 needed to qualify for the ballot.
CCMC claimed–without evidence–that “a significant number of signatures were improperly invalidated, depriving the electors of their right to participate in this referendum process.” CCMC made repeated petitions to the Board, all of which were denied. On February 3, 2020 CCMC filed for a writ of mandamus–an order to execute some specific act that a body is obliged to do under law–from the Supreme Court of Ohio to reexamine the signatures or validate them outright.
At the center of the request were 47 invalidated signatures for which CCMC produced affidavits from individuals attesting that it was indeed their signature.
In their decision denying CCMC’s request, the Supreme Court of Ohio repeatedly cited CCMC’s complete lack of evidence:
[CCMC] have not shown by clear and convincing evidence that any of the 47 signatures at issue were invalidated at all—much less that they were invalidated for not matching the alleged signers’ voter-registration cards…[they]have offered little more than a bare allegation that the 47 affidavits submitted into evidence are from persons whose signatures were invalidated by the board. On this record, this court cannot determine by clear and convincing evidence that the board invalidated the 47 signatures at issue at all, much less for the reason that relators say.
Seemingly undeterred by yet another defeat, Chris Long, President of Ohio Christian Alliance, issued a statement expressing his displeasure but vowing to continue the organization’s fight against equality.
“This may not be the end of the road for this case,” said Long.