WHY YOU SHOULD KNOW HIM: In 2008, Cimperman introduced legislation to Cleveland City Council that created the city's domestic partner registry, one of only three in Ohio at the time. The legislation allowed same-sex and heterosexual couples to make an official record of their relationship — and paved the way for future city ordinances and legislation, which would prohibit discrimination in the arenas of housing and employment for the LGBT community and establish health benefits for same-sex partners of city employees.
MOVED TO ACTION: "I felt people were being treated as second-class citizens," he says. "So I got pretty involved with some of the leadership in the LGBT community, and we started passing legislation." In addition to the city's domestic partner registry, the ally worked on a 2009 amendment to Chapter 663 in Cleveland's municipal ordinance to include gender identity. "When you talk about civil rights and gender rights and human rights, there is just no way to lie — either you support human equality or you don't. There's a refreshing quality in the honesty."
PUBLIC HONOR: Cleveland has long hosted heritage celebrations for its various ethnic and cultural factions, such as Asian-Pacific and African-American heritage days. But Cimperman encouraged City Council to consider adding an LGBT Heritage Day to its repertoire. "We felt like if the LGBT community was its own culture, if you will, then we should have a heritage day for them," Cimperman explains. The city will celebrate its sixth annual LGBT Heritage Day this October.
EQUAL BENEFITS: In 2011, Cimperman sponsored a successful ordinance that offers domestic partner benefits — extending health care to the partners of city employees on Cleveland's domestic partner registry. "You're trying to play defense," he says. "When the state says you can't get married because you're gay, they're also saying a lot of other things, in terms of how you're treated, how you're taxed, how you're cared for in a hospital. So, we were trying to figure out ways to mitigate the damage of marriage inequality."