August 15, 1972
Republican Ohio Secretary of State Ted W. Brown (R) refused to accept the articles of incorporation for the Greater Cincinnati Gay Society. The organization’s proposed articles of incorporation said the group was formed “to promote the acceptance of homosexuality as a valid life style whenever and wherever possible by legal, political or other means.” Brown refused to approve, file and record the articles of incorporation because “homosexuality as a valid life style has been and is currently defined by statute as a criminal act.” In a radical interpretation of Ohio law, Brown held that just talking about it, apparently, was also against the law under Ohio’s anti-sodomy and solicitation statutes.
The three men who filed the articles — Powell Grant, Jack Busse, and Robert Dugan — appealed Brown’s decision to the Ohio Supreme Court, asking the court to order Brown to accept the incorporation request. While the case was pending, the Ohio Legislature undertook a massive revision to the Ohio Criminal Code (now routinely referred to as the Ohio Revised Code), and in the process eliminated the anti-sodomy and anti-solicitation laws. But the majority of the court appeared not to have gotten that memo. On July 10, 1974, four of the seven justices sided with Secretary Brown. They acknowledged that homosexuality was no longer illegal, but held instead that “promotion of homosexuality as a valid life style is contrary to the public policy of the state.” The minority pointed out that because Ohio had decriminalized all private sexual activity between consenting adults, there was nothing even remotely illegal about the Society.
In 1976, Brown apparently had a change of heart when he approved the filing of articles of incorporation for the Dayton Lesbian and Gay Center. In 1978, he lost his seat to his Democratic challenger in a very close race.
Bigots then, bigots now.