[LFC comments: Thanks to the Ohio Christian Alliance for this article exposing how our system of governance can be manipulated by those in power. Citizens must rise up against this abuse of power.]
Written by Ohio Christian Alliance
Edited and formatted by LFC
October 29, 2020
Why the LGBTQ Special Rights Ordinance Referendum Isn’t on the Ballot for the City of Medina
The referendum petition on City Ordinance 112-19, the LGBTQ Special Rights Ordinance that Medina City Council passed in July of 2019, is not on the ballot.
Council had ignored the concerns of Medina City residents who expressed concerns about the comprehensive nature of the ordinance that included a public accommodation that would allow members of the opposite sex to use the restrooms, locker rooms, showers, and sports programs of their choice.
City residents were concerned about the privacy rights of women and children, including in the Medina City Schools. Therefore, the Concerned Citizens of Medina City launched a referendum effort. The Ohio Revised Code states that citizens have 30 days from the time which council passed the ordinance to secure 10 percent of the last gubernatorial election to place the referendum on the ballot. 983 signatures were needed.
The Citizens Committee turned in 1,173 signatures from registered voters in the City of Medina. The law states that the referendum petitions were to be submitted to the City Finance Director Keith Dirham. Mr. Dirham reviewed the petitions with members of the committee and found them to be facially valid. When asked when he would turn them over to the Board of Elections for their review, he stated that he would wait to hear what the City Law Director would advise him.
City Law Director Greg Huber told Mr. Dirham to hold the petitions for ten days. After the ten days, Mr. Dirham submitted them to the Medina County Board of Elections. The Board reviewed the petitions and published their report. After disqualifying 260 signatures, they said that the Citizens Committee was 44 signatures short of what was needed to place the referendum on the ballot.
This is when things get interesting.
The Ohio Christian Alliance and the Citizens Committee obtained a public records request of the Medina County Board of Elections of the markup on the referendum petition on City Ordinance 112-19. After reviewing the Board’s report, it was discovered that fifty-nine of the signatures were invalidated for what was deemed “non-matching signature.”
Conflict of Interest: What is important to note is that Pam Miller, who is the Democratic Chairwoman of the Medina County Board of Elections, was in public support of the LGBTQ special-rights ordinance.
In fact, according to members of City Council, she is the one led the effort encouraging City Council to pass the ordinance. The reason why Ms. Miller did not recuse herself from the oversight of review of the referendum petition signatures is still unknown.
The Concerned Citizens of Medina City and the Ohio Christian Alliance and their attorneys asked Secretary of State Frank LaRose to conduct a review of what procedures were followed to ensure there was no prejudice in review of the referendum petition signatures. The SOS’s report findings were inconclusive. After consulting with our attorneys, they advised that we secure sworn affidavits from the 59 Medina citizens who wrongfully had their signatures invalidated by the Medina County Board of Elections.
Forty-seven of those 59 residents were eager to sign affidavits with a photocopy of their ID, attesting that they had indeed signed the petition, proving that their signatures were wrongfully invalidated by the Medina County BOE.
The Citizens Committee then filed for a hearing of review with the evidence of the sworn affidavits to the Medina County Board of Elections. Unbelievably, the Board denied the committee’s request for a hearing, and stated that they were under advisement of their representative counsel, the Medina County Prosecutor Forrest Thompson and his assistant Prosecutor Mike Lyons, to not grant the Citizens Committee a hearing or to acknowledge them in any way. [LFC Comments: We have found this to be a very common tactic by elected officials and bureaucrats. Discourage the opposition and force the average citizen to spend money through the legal system!]
The committee consulted with their attorneys again, some of the attorneys volunteering their own time to help with the effort, and another appeal was filed. After exhausting all efforts on the local level to have the petitions and the affidavits reviewed, the Citizens Committee had no recourse but to file for remedy at the Ohio Supreme Court. Attorney Josh Brown representing Marie J. Nauth, representative for the Citizens Committee, filed at the Ohio Supreme Court in February 2020.
A motion by the City of Medina attorney’s office and by County Prosecutor Forrest Thompson to have the case dismissed was denied by the Ohio Supreme Court. The case would go forward.
The Supreme Court of Ohio Case:2020-0179: Marie J. Nauth and Concerned Citizens of Medina City v. Keith H. Dirham, Director of Finance, City of Medina, Ohio, et al. Original Action in Mandamus Filed:02/03/2020 The case went back and forth with filings for eight months. Then, on August 26, 2020, a decision came down from the Ohio Supreme Court. It was not what we wanted. You can read the Court’s full decision at information above.
Basically, the Court dismissed the case over a technicality. We find this to be unacceptable. When the fundamental voting rights of Ohio Citizens are being denied, it is disappointing that the Court did not advocate for the rights of those 47 individuals who are registered voters in the City of Medina and who swore in statements that indeed they had signed the petition. Had the Court at least granted The Citizens Committee a hearing with the Board of Elections, it would have been determined that indeed those signatures were valid and that it would have been on the ballot for the people to decide.
Undoubtedly, the Medina County Board of Elections and some political officials in Medina did not want this measure on the ballot, as the citizens most certainly would have voted for the referendum, overturning the actions of City Council on Ordinance 112-19, the LGBTQ special rights ordinance.
What this case has revealed is that there is a glitch in the law concerning review of petitions. This would include referendum petitions, initiative petitions, and Constitutional petition.
The Ohio Christian Alliance will move forward with legislation that will address this issue in the Ohio Revised Code so that citizens in the future who attest to the validity of their signatures by sworn affidavit can be granted a hearing at the boards of elections.
What is interesting to note is that the law currently allows a dog owner who had their dog seized by the dog warden to have a hearing, but if county bureaucrats seize your vote, you are not entitled to a hearing or due process. This is wrong, and we will fix the problem through the Ohio Legislature.
Now regarding your concerns about the LGBTQ ordinance that is now on the books in the City of Medina. What options do the citizens have?
- You can pass a charter amendment that will erase the public accommodation portion of the ordinance.
- Individuals whose privacy rights have been violated can file lawsuits.
- Electing city and county officials who listen to the people and address their concerns is also important.
This referendum effort brought a lot of good citizens together for a mutual cause. Lasting relationships were fostered among people who live in the City and County of Medina and who will stay informed and vigilant concerning the actions of city and county officials.