Michigan

Emotional Outpouring For Marriage At Equality Cabaret

By Jan Stevenson

Photos: Kim Borger and Audrey Wojokowsi

ANN ARBOR - Spirits were high and emotions strong at the standing-room-only Cabaret For Equality Feb. 23 at The Ark in Ann Arbor. The event raised funds for the legal challenge to Michigan's anti-marriage ban and adoption restrictions for same-sex couples, and was the final fundraiser for the Michigan Marriage Challenge before the start of the DeBoer v. Snyder case Feb. 25.

"This is just so important to me, thanks for being here all of you," said a teary-eyed Kate Peterson of Nervous But Excited, the lesbian folk duo that brought the crowd roaring to their feet at the end of the afternoon program.

Organizers were not sure of the exact totals, but estimated the amount raised by the event for Michigan Marriage Challenge to be in the thousands.

Holly Hughes emceed the lineup that included a lively, eclectic mix of bands, folk singers, poets, instrumentalists, performance artists, video and drag. The crowd was boisterous, impassioned, loud and clearly ready to mobilize for marriage equality, and Hughes, a seasoned performance artist, professor and activist, kept the crowd pumped up throughout the show.

"I think this is also about state pride," quipped Hughes. "I was OK with marriage rights getting approved on the coasts. It's more liberal, and we're in the Midwest - OK. But then Iowa?" she said in mock horror. "Iowa - gateway to the rectangular states! And Utah! Michigan can't be left behind. No No No. It's a matter of our state honor now!"

Many cried when Vienna Teng performed a tender song she had written in 2004 to celebrate San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's marrying thousands of same-sex couples in defiance of the state's law banning marriage equality. Dueling Divas Jordan Harris and Robby Griswold delighted with a smart skit about their upcoming performance at the wedding of "Peaches and Steve."

"This was the most empowering, exciting and reenergizing events for the LGBT movement I've been to in years," said Linda Lombardini of Trillium Real Estate, one of the event sponsors. The audience, largely women, included many prominent attorneys and political leaders, including an appearance by Debbie Dingell, a prominent leader in the Michigan Democratic Party and wife of congressman John Dingell.

Sandi Smith, president of Jim Toy Center, spoke about the importance of the upcoming court case, its implications for marriage rights and adoption, and the need to keep working for full civil rights no matter what the outcome of the case. "Even if we win in this case, we still will not have employment protections in Michigan. So even though this case is so important, it is not the end of our struggle," she said. Smith also gave a shout out to Jim Toy who was there, as were April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, the plaintiffs in the federal case going to court. The crowd stood and cheered loudly to honor them all.

Jim Toy Center hosted the Equality Cabaret and shared in the proceeds of the event.

Thanks For A Great Event

BTL was proud to sponsor the Equality Cabaret. We'd like to thank The Ark and all the extraordinary performers who donated their time and talents to support marriage equality in Michigan. Next time you're looking for some cool music, watch for these performers, or get their cd's;

Chris Good and the Sweet Insurrection, with Brenna Andes, James Cornelison, Julian Allen and Ross Huff

Dawn Richberg and Vanessa Marr

Dueling Divas, Jordan Harris and Robby Griswold

Eleni Kelakos

Matt Rice

Mr. B

Nervous But Excited

Sylvia aka Mark Brown

Vienna Teng

Mr. Piano aka Michael Krieger

Holly Hughes


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