September 17, 2002 at 4:58 PM EST - Updated July 12 at 4:26 AM
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The Ohio Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected a request to order a referendum in Cleveland Heights to repeal an ordinance extending health benefits to same-sex partners of city workers.
Last April, the City Council approved the ordinance -- the first of its kind in Ohio. Opponents of the ordinance then gathered signatures to put the issue to a referendum.
Tuesday's ruling was limited to the issue of how many signatures are required to force a referendum. Backers said that they were given different numbers and said that they submitted sufficient signatures.
The court said that the city and Elections Board correctly ruled that 15 percent of registered voters was required, not 15 percent of those who cast ballots in the most recent election.
Patrick Shepherd with the gay-rights group Cleveland Stonewall Democrats said that he thinks Cleveland Heights voters would have upheld same-sex benefits.
(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)