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July 25, 2003

Household benefits may fall to budget axe

Columbus--The proposed household benefits plan that would extend health insurance to domestic partners of city employees is not likely to happen due to budget concerns.

�It isn�t going to go anywhere once it gets to council, and the reason is the budget,� a city council staffer told the Gay People�s Chronicle under condition of anonymity.

�I wish I could refute the claim,� said Councilmember Charleta Tavares when she was asked about it. She chairs the council�s health committee and was also on the Joint Committee on Household Benefits appointed in 2002 by Mayor Michael Coleman and council president Matt Habash.

Tavares said she purposefully has not discussed the plan with her colleagues on council because of her dual role in the process.

�I have had no discussion with them as to where they are on the plan, and I don�t want to until the plan is presented to council,� said Tavares.

According to Tavares, benefits committee chair Phil Cass is still planning to turn the final plan over to the mayor and council July 24.

That follows a meeting of the committee July 17, where Cass discussed the 50 comments from the public.

Tavares said there were 24 comments in favor of the plan and 26 against it. Many of the comments said the plan doesn�t go far enough or address the domestic partner issue. Others worried that their health insurance premiums would go up if the plan was enacted.

Tavares said the committee also discussed a revision to the section of the plan describing the committee�s purpose.

Tavares said she remains committed to the plan.

�I believe we should move forward,� said Tavares, �even if cuts have to be made somewhere else. You can be penny wise and pound foolish.�

Tavares said the city auditor recently told council that an additional $5 million needs to be cut from the city�s operating budget before December 31, and projections show that another $40 million need to be cut from next year�s budget.

It was reported in the Columbus Dispatch that Coleman supports the plan, but said that putting it in place would be a matter of budget.

Tavares said the plan might also face opposition from some unions who are currently negotiating with the city, especially the Fraternal Order of Police.

�They are questioning the benefit while they are in the middle of a contract,� said Tavares, �and they have made the question part of their screening process for candidate endorsements.�

Tavares said the FOP has a special contract with the city that pays 100 percent of the cost of their coverage, while other city employees pay a 10 percent premium.

�They think that if the city gives household benefits, they will also have to pay 10 percent,� Tavares said.

The predicted cost of the household benefits is between $415,000 and $622,000 a year. This is about one percent of the city�s current $51.5 million health benefit bill.

Employees would pay 50% of the premium for household members in the plan. The IRS requires that they also pay income tax on the city�s half. Workers now pay 10 percent for married spouses and related children; the city�s 90 percent is not taxed.

This disparity angers GLBT community leaders, who say the plan does not represent equal access to benefits for their partners.

However, Stonewall Columbus has said it will support the plan as an improvement over the current situation, if it is enacted and funded by the city in 2003.

Canadian marriage bill referred to high court

Ottawa--Minister of Justice Martin Cauchon introduced a bill to legalize same-sex marriages across Canada on July 17, referring it to the Supreme Court for their opinion on three legal issues.

The action follows court rulings in three provinces that denying marriage to same-sex couples violates the nation�s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Lesbian and gay couples may now marry in Ontario and British Columbia. Cauchon�s bill would extend this nationwide.

The government dropped its appeal of the third ruling, in Quebec, on the day the bill was introduced.

The main text of the bill reads:

�1. Marriage, for civil purposes, is the lawful union of two persons to the exclusion of all others.

2. Nothing in this Act affects the freedom of officials of religious groups to refuse to perform marriages that are not in accordance with their religious beliefs.�

Cauchon drafted three questions for the court to answer. The first is whether or not marriage falls under the sole jurisdiction of the federal government. Under Canadian law, the federal government defines marriage while the provinces issue the licenses.

The government of Alberta has stated that it will not license same-sex marriages, and would invoke the �notwithstanding clause� of the Charter, the Canadian equivalent of the Bill of Rights.

The federal bill is partly an attempt to remove Alberta�s ability to use the clause, which allows provinces to ignore court-mandated legislation. But they cannot exempt themselves from laws passed by Parliament.

The second question for the court is if the legislation fulfills the equal rights requirements of the Charter that the three rulings were based on.

The final question is if the Charter�s freedom of religion clause protects religious groups that oppose same-sex marriages from having to perform them.

�This bill will ensure that same-sex couples from coast to coast enjoy the equal right to affirm their love and commitment through marriage,� said Lisa LaChance, president of gay and lesbian advocacy group �gale Canada. �Already, same-sex couples are able to marry in Ontario and British Columbia, provinces which together comprise more than 50% of the Canadian population. This bill will ensure that your right to marry does not depend upon where in the country you happen to live.�

The group�s executive director, Gilles Marchildon, touted the bill�s concessions to the concerns of religious groups.

�At the same time, the bill makes clear that religious freedom is in fact enhanced by affirming the right of religions to perform or not perform marriages in accordance with the tenets of their faith,� he said.

�In our view, the Supreme Court reference is not, strictly speaking, necessary,� he continued. �The answers to these questions are self-evident. Everyone knows that who can marry is a federal issue, and that religious freedom is already protected. However, we recognize that the Supreme Court reference will maximize political support for the bill by addressing any credible concern that could conceivably be raised.�

In addition, a coalition of religious leaders has voiced their support of the bill, counteracting some of the religious groups protesting it.

Representatives of the United Church of Canada, Anglicans, Lutherans, Quakers and the Canadian Coalition of Liberal Rabbis for Same-Sex Marriage released a statement voicing their support, while fundamentalists and Catholics opposed the measure.

Cauchon, in a press conference introducing the bill, invited provinces to begin solemnizing same-sex marriages now, instead of waiting for the legislation to pass through Parliament after the court gives it opinion. The process could take nearly a year.

�I invite provinces and territories to proceed and act according to the draft bill I have tabled,� he said.

Cauchon also pledged the government�s continuing support to the measure. Prime Minister Jean Chr�tien is stepping down in November, and Paul Martin, his heir apparent, is also committed to the new definition of marriage.

Cauchon warned, though, that same-sex marriage may become an issue in the general election next spring.


Massachusetts court misses marriage ruling deadline

Speculation rises on the reason, and fears that a constitutional amendment might trump the court

Boston--The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts has gone beyond its internal deadline for returning opinions in a landmark same-sex marriage case, causing speculation about the reason why.

Meanwhile, an amendment to ban same-sex marriage and trump any court ruling is already on the docket for a constitutional convention this fall.

The case, Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, was originally filed two years ago by Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders of Boston on behalf of seven same-sex couples attempting to obtain Massachusetts marriage licenses.

After a lower court ruled against the couples last year, they appealed to the state�s highest court, which heard arguments March 4.

The court has a non-binding tradition of rendering opinions within 130 days. That passed on July 12 with no decision.

�If ever there was a case to violate the 130-day rule, this is it,� said GLAD attorney and civil rights project director Mary Bonauto, who represented the couples.

Bonauto said there were �incredible legal developments� during that time, including the U.S. Supreme Court ruling sodomy laws unconstitutional and two Canadian provinces, Ontario and British Columbia, granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

�I hope the court is taking those developments under consideration,� said Bonauto.

She called speculation on the court�s motive for delay �media hype,� but declined to say at what point she would become concerned.

Bonauto said the situation in Massachusetts is different from Hawaii and Alaska in 1998 when court delays allowed anti-gay forces heavily funded by the Mormon church to amend both state constitutions, voiding court rulings for same-sex marriage.

The legal issues in the three states as well as a Vermont case that led to civil unions are similar: Under the state constitutions� equal protection clauses, they cannot discriminate against same-sex couples without a �compelling interest� in doing so.

In Hawaii, Alaska, and Vermont, courts ruled that states could prove no such interest, and that religious doctrine and procreation failed to meet the high legal standard of �compelling interests.�

Constitutional conclave in 4 months

Massachusetts has a constitutional convention scheduled for November 12, and Bonauto said the court questioned her about the possibility of an amendment during oral argument.

�But unlike Alaska and Hawaii,� said Bonauto, �amending the Massachusetts constitution is a protracted process, and it is not clear if the legislature would even want to take it up.�

However, an amendment has been taken up.

Last year, marriage opponents gathered enough signatures for a marriage ban amendment, but it was stopped by a procedural maneuver that avoided a vote.

This year, a new amendment has been proposed by Rep. Philip Travis, a Democrat who believes the legislature cheated by not debating the merits of the measure last time.

Travis� amendment must be passed by a majority in two successive legislative sessions, then approved by voters. It could be put on the ballot as early as 2006.

The Hawaii top court waited nearly two years to rule, allowing that state�s amendment to pass. It then said any decision it made would be moot.

There is nothing preventing a similar scenario in Massachusetts, though Bonauto thinks an amendment vote would fail.

�The country is moving in our direction,� said Bonauto. She cites an April Boston Globe poll showing that 50 percent of Massachusetts residents support same-sex marriage, 42 percent remain opposed, and eight percent are undecided.

Marriage backers hope the court will allow same-sex marriages until 2006, so that in the event a ban amendment is approved by voters, its enactment� would be complicated by the existing marriages.

Effort is more sophisticated now

Bonauto�s sentiments are echoed by Freedom to Marry executive director Evan Wolfson. Formerly an attorney with Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Wolfson worked on the earlier marriage cases.

�[Massachusetts] is the fourth generation of same-sex marriage litigation,� said Wolfson. �Early cases in the 1970s were the first, Hawaii was the second, Vermont was the third, and we are far more sophisticated now.�

�The lesson in Hawaii is that we didn�t mobilize enough to defend the victory that was clearly within our reach,� said Wolfson. �GLAD has done more of the political groundwork in Massachusetts than was ever done in Hawaii.�

DOMAs are likely unconstitutional

States began passing so-called �defense of marriage� acts, or DOMAs, in the 1990s as anti-gays feared Hawaii would allow same-sex marriages, and all other states would have to recognize Hawaii�s licenses under the full faith and credit clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Thirty-seven states and the federal government have passed the measures. Ohio has one pending in the state senate. An amendment to the U.S. Constitution to prohibit same-sex marriages has been proposed.

Massachusetts, however, has not passed a DOMA.

A July 10 press release on the case from the anti-gay Family Research Council suggests for the first time in anti- gay literature that the DOMA laws might not withstand a constitutional challenge, a claim their opponents have always asserted.

FRC did not return calls for comment.

�They know as well as we do that the DOMAs are profoundly unconstitutional and unsustainable,� said Wolfson, �They also know that they are losing the engagement with the American people, which is another reason we should be educating people and building support for the freedom to marry instead of worrying about the court missing a deadline.�

Bonauto said the Massachusetts court has three options.

�They can rule that we have no fundamental right to marry,� said Bonauto, �and in that case, we will go to the legislatures for that right.�

�They can devise a legislative remedy like in Vermont, or they can order the state to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples.�

But the court can also wait.

�Nothing in the court rules or law says they can�t take a year or more, if the want to,� said Supreme Judicial Court assistant clerk Holly White. She added that the court exceeds its 130-day limit about 5% of the time.




Police seek leads in mans shooting death outside bar


Cincinnati--Police are asking for information that might lead them to the killer of a gay bar patron.

People leaving the Dock dance club at 2:04am July 19 reported finding a man in front of the bar who had been shot.

The victim, William Clendening, 52, was declared dead at the scene by paramedics responding to the call. He was an occasional patron of the bar.

Police said at the time, Clendening was wearing a blue Hawaiian style shirt, blue trousers, and brown basket-weave type shoes. He also wore a silver peace sign pinky ring.

According to Cincinnati police spokesperson Lt. Kurt Byrd, nothing else is known about the murder at this time.

Byrd said the Dock, which is across from the Ohio River near the new Paul Brown football stadium �has never been a problem bar.� He noted that Oscar�s, another bar across the street from it, requires frequent police attention.

�I would describe [Oscar�s] as an amateur bar,� said Byrd, �meaning that the crowd is young and not experienced as drinkers, so there are a lot of fights.�

Stonewall Cincinnati spokesperson Doreen Cudnik said that the Dock itself is not dangerous, but in addition to Oscar�s, the large lot behind the Dock is a concern.

�It�s a large, dark, overgrown area, and nobody is sure who owns it,� said Cudnik. �There are individuals preying on men who might be back there.�

She said there is some cruising activity there also.

Cudnik added that the Dock has recently decreased security to Saturday nights only. The shooting happened late on a Friday night.

Homicide detectives met with members of the Stonewall Cincinnati Anti-Violence Anti-Discrimination Committee regarding the crime.

Byrd said that not enough is currently known about the crime to determine whether or not it could be considered a hate crime.

Cudnik said it seems to her to be more a robbery than a hate crime.

Detectives told the committee they think Clendening was walking from the back of the building to the front, then staggered to the bar�s door, collapsing before getting in, according to Cudnik.

Cincinnati passed a hate crime ordinance in February that enhances the penalty for acts of violence committed due to anti-gay bias following the December 31, 2002 murder of Gregory Beauchamp that is believed to have been an anti-gay hate crime.

Stonewall is asking people who were in the area to contact investigators.

�They don�t care that you may have been doing something you shouldn�t have, back there,� said Cudnik, �They have bigger fish to fry, and anything that anyone saw or heard might help.�

Police are asking anyone with information about the crime to call their Criminal Investigations Section at 513-3523542 or Crimestoppers at 513-3523040. Callers can remain anonymous and may be compensated up to $1,000 for information leading to a conviction.



Gay man says Cleveland jailers allowed him to be raped

Cleveland--An openly gay man has filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Cleveland claiming he was raped in a city jail while jailers stood within earshot and did nothing.

The city counters that the man was injured due to his own negligence.

The 40-year-old African-American man, who lives on Cleveland�s east side, filed the suit in United States District Court June 18. The case was assigned to Judge Solomon Oliver.

Defendants are the city of Cleveland, the jailer and another police officer, both presently unnamed. The officers are sued in their official capacities and as individuals.

Though his name is on the suit, the man asked that it not be used in media accounts. He is represented by Cleveland attorney Sarah Moore.

According to the suit, Cleveland police stopped the man, who was driving his sister�s car, for a broken headlight on January 26, 2002. They then arrested him for an outstanding warrant on an earlier traffic matter.

Police took him to the department�s Fourth District station at East 93rd St. and Kinsman Ave.

The suit alleges that as he was led into the station�s holding cell area that evening, the officer who was the jailer on that shift announced, �Looks like we have another girl here.�

After allowing the man to call a family member, the jailer said loudly, �Bring your faggot ass on,� and �Get in there, you bitch� as he put the man in a cell with another prisoner, John Allen Jr.

Allen, 41 at the time, had already been convicted of nine crimes including a 1980 rape which police would have seen on his record.

According to the complaint, an intoxicated Allen remarked that he was �going to get a piece� of the man, while prisoners in other cells joined by yelling, �When you get through with that faggot, I want to stick my dick up him too,� and �John, when you get through with him, I want to stick my dick up his ass.�

Once in the cell, Allen forcibly raped the man �under threat of death� while he yelled for help and shouted �No.�

The man states that the jailer remained in the cell area and within listening distance of what was going during the entire time of the rape. He knew this because he heard the jailer�s keys jingling and did not hear the door to the cell area open or close.

The complaint further states that a monitoring camera was pointed toward the cell during the entire time of the rape. It is unknown if there is a tape from that camera, or if it was running.

The man says that during the rape, a prisoner in an adjoining cell yelled, �You�re getting some, when you�re done fucking him, I�ll fuck him too.�

Shortly after the rape, which lasted about five minutes, the victim, who is epileptic, suffered a seizure and became unconscious.

The complaint states that neither the jailer nor any other police official intervened to stop the rape.

When he regained consciousness, the man said there were two officers standing over him, but that neither sought medical help.

Once the shift changed and a new jailer came on, the man reported that he had a seizure the night before and needed medical help.

The new jailer called for paramedics. When they arrived, the man asked for a pen and paper and wrote �Last night they let the guy in my cell rape me.�

Paramedics took the man to a hospital for treatment January 27 and a rape examination.

The exam confirmed that the man had been raped January 26.

The man claims that following this confirmation, he reported the incident to detectives. Allen was charged with rape but no investigation was made into the role of the jail officers.

Allen plea-bargained the rape charge down to misdemeanor sexual imposition, which he pleaded guilty to in August 2002. He served six months in county jail.

The complaint continues that Cleveland allowed its employees to �with deliberate indifference, make discriminatory statements regarding sexuality that placed a homosexual male at risk of being raped or acting so as to facilitate a sexual attack upon a homosexual in jail.�

In its response filed July 3, the city admits that a report was made to detectives, but denies nearly every other charge in the complaint.

Chief Civil Counsel Thomas Kaiser of the Cleveland Law Department, who would not reach a preliminary settlement with the man, declined all comment on the case.

But in their answer, the city asserts that the man�s injuries were caused by his own negligence, and that he assumed the risk of his injury. They do not say how he was negligent while in police custody.

The city also claims it is immune from the claims in the complaint.

The city denies nearly every charge, including that they knew the man was a U.S. citizen, his address, and the results of the rape exam.

�Defendant denies that it is responsible for all �acts and conduct regarding detention and protection of prisoners,� � said the city, quoting the victim�s complaint.

The man wants the court to order the city to pay compensatory and punitive damages, as well as attorney fees.

Attorney Moore said the city has not yet disclosed the names of the officers who are also defendants, but once their identities are discovered, they will be named.

According to the activist group Stop Prison Rape, 240,000 male-on-male prison rapes are committed each year, often due to perceived sexual orientation of the victims. Prosecutions are rare.

In its April 2001 report titled No Escape: Male Prison Rape in U.S. Prisons, Human Rights Watch said that correctional authorities generally deny rape as a problem or minimize the incidents as things like �lovers� quarrels.�

�Rape is an effective mechanism of inmate control,� according to Neve Gordon, a professor at Ben Gurion University in Israel for an article in the National Catholic Reporter.

�By allowing rape to go on, the �correctional� authorities ensure that prisoner violence is contained within the cells,� wrote Gordon. �Frustrated prisoners are permitted to release aggression on condition that they direct it against other inmates, not the authorities.�



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Police arrest man in New Year hate crime killing

Cincinnati--Police believe they have solved the city�s final homicide of 2002, the shooting death of Gregory Beauchamp, a 21-year-old gay man.

An arrest warrant was issued for Jerry Jones, 22, and police officers arrested him on July 23 at the intersection of York and Linn in the West End.

Beauchamp was walking with friends to Venus Nightclub in Over-the-Rhine at about 9 pm on New Year�s Eve when a Cadillac pulled up alongside them and the men inside started yelling anti-gay epithets, according to witnesses.

Police believe that Jones fired a .22-caliber handgun from inside the car, killing Beauchamp.

According to Sgt. Joe Priestle of the Cincinnati Police homicide division, the shooting was reported as a hate crime for statistical purposes, but was investigated as a homicide. At the time, neither Ohio law nor Cincinnati ordinances included sexual orientation in hate crimes.

Spurred in part by Beauchamp�s murder, Cincinnati City Council expanded the city�s hate crime ordinance to include sexual orientation in early February. The ordinance applies only to misdemeanors, however, so it would not apply to a murder.


News Briefs

Compiled from wire reports by Brian DeWitt, Anthony Glassman and Patti Harris.

Boyd schools try again with gay-straight club rule

Ashland, Ky.--Boyd County school officials have drafted a policy allowing a student gay-straight alliance group to meet, but only after school and not as a school-sponsored club.

The policy, approved at the July 21 school board meeting, allows only curriculum-based clubs to meet in the morning or during school hours, and have faculty sponsors. The board and its attorneys developed the policy in response to a lawsuit by Boyd County High School�s Gay-Straight Alliance.

The suit claims the school violated the federal Equal Access Act by barring the alliance from meeting on school grounds while allowing other non-curricular groups to do so.

The alliance and other non-curricular clubs would have to complete the same application used by other outside groups such as the Boy Scouts. The policy doesn�t list which clubs are considered curriculum-based.

A spokeswoman for the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed the suit on the alliance�s behalf, didn�t know if they will object to the policy.

�To some extent it will depend on what they try to say are curricular clubs,� spokeswoman Chris Hampton said. �All along, they�ve had this unusual definition of what curricular and non-curricular clubs are that is not in line with case law and what the judge has told them.�

Settlement talks fell through earlier this month. There are no immediate plans for further talks, though both sides have said they�d be open to further discussion.

School settles with student

Little Rock, Ark.--A gay teenager has reached a $25,000 settlement with his former school district after he sued, claiming school officials violated his freedom of speech when he was disciplined for talking about his sexual orientation outside class.

Thomas McLaughlin, 14, said teachers at the school disciplined him for speaking about being gay. The suit also claimed that he was forced to read the Bible aloud and that the school had told his parents that he was gay.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed the federal suit in April against the Pulaski County School District on behalf of McLaughlin, who attended Jacksonville Junior High School.

McLaughlin, who will be a high school freshman in the coming school year, won�t be school in Jacksonville. The McLaughlins have moved from Arkansas to Louisiana for reasons unrelated to the lawsuit, they said.

According to the agreement, the district will pay McLaughlin and his parents $25,000 in damages and attorney fees, write McLaughlin a letter of apology and clear his disciplinary record.

The settlement also requires the school not to disclose any student�s sexual orientation or punish students for talking about sexual orientation or discipline when they�re not in class. The district also said it wouldn�t preach religion to students.

Egypt acquits 11 men of �debauchery�

Cairo, Egypt--An appeals court acquitted 11 men of �debauchery� for alleged homosexual activity, one of their lawyers said July 20.

As the three-member panel issued its ruling July 19, Judge Mo�azer El-Marsafy condemned the men even while clearing them of criminal charges, said the lawyer, Helmi Al-Rawi.

�We are so disgusted with you, we can�t even look at you,� the judge said. �What you did is a major sin, but unfortunately the case has procedural errors and the court had to acquit all of you.�

The 11 men were convicted in April and sentenced to up to three years in prison in one of several such cases that have drawn denunciations from international human rights groups.

The main defendant was arrested in February after his telephone had been bugged for more than a month by officials acting on a tip.

Egypt�s criminal code makes no specific mention of homosexuality, but the country uses a wide range of laws covering obscenity, prostitution and debauchery to prosecute gay men.

Egyptian police monitor restaurants considered gay hangouts as well as Web sites catering to LGBT people.

UCC supports transgendered people

Minneapolis--The United Church of Christ has expressed its support for transgendered people in the church.

The resolution was among several passed at the UCC�s general synod, which ended July 15 in Minneapolis. About 2,500 people attended.

�It feels so good to finally feel fully at home,� said transgender minister Pat Conover, who has been a member of the church for 37 years.

�Transgender people know God loves them; it is time for the UCC to say we love them too,� said Lisa Alston of Fayetteville, Ga., head of the committee that prepared the resolution. The General Synod also denounced violence against transgendered people.

Based in Cleveland, the UCC has 1.4 million members and is among the most liberal Christian churches on gay issues. Its next General Synod will convene in Atlanta in 2005.




I would if I could

Play examines love, marriage, faith and obedience at the intersection of Catholic and Gay

Cincinnati--Two gay men. One concert pianist. Two priests. One mother. The Catholic church.

These are the ingredients in Bill C. Davis� Avow, produced by Ovation Theater at the Aronoff Center for the Arts in Cincinnati from August 1 to 9.

Brian (Michael Monks) and Tom (Stephen Martin) want to get married, as so many same-sex couples do nowadays. Having their roles written before Ontario and British Columbia legalized same-sex marriages, they opt for a religious wedding, having both been raised in the Catholic church.

They go to their neighborhood parish priest, Father Raymond (A. Jackson Ford), to marry them. Raymond, however, while being fairly progressive, must still toe the church�s line on the issue, and tells them they have to be celibate to remain in the loving embrace of the church. Brian wants to fight for their love, while Tom begins to re-examine his life.

Meanwhile, Brian�s sister Irene (Mary Jo McClain) is pregnant. A successful pianist, she is far from ready to be a single mother, but her sibling has convinced her to have the baby and give it to the men to raise. Wanting her brother to be happy, she tries to work things out between the young men and Father Raymond, who she finds herself attracted to--and the feelings are mutual.

Irene and Brian�s mother Rose (Michelle Becker) is deep in counseling with Father Raymond�s confessor, Father Nash. She can�t quite come to grips with her daughter the slut and her son the fag.

Brian and Tom begin to drift apart as Tom reverts to his childhood obedience to the mother church, while Brian wants to affect the church as deeply as it has affected him. Father Raymond begins to question his choice of celibacy shortly after insisting on it for the two men, while Irene continues to choose the wrong men and Rose questions her children�s choices in life, as well as her own.

�To me, marriage is more a spiritual phenomenon than a legal one,� said playwright Bill C. Davis. �On that basis, I though it interesting to build a drama around the pursuit of marriage by two men.�

�All physical and official realities would flow out of the recognition by God that they are united,� he continued. �That seems to be the progression in most cultures and why should it be any different for Brian and Tom?�

Brian�s desire to mold the church as it did him decades ago stemmed from an earlier Davis play, Mass Appeal.

�The last line in Mass Appeal prompted this play,� he noted. �Father Farley says to the congregation that each of us �must be allowed to help shape the thing that has shaped us.� Brian and Tom are Catholic--that is what shaped, inspired and damaged them.�

�They are not going to leave and join another denomination. Brian integrates that admonition from the end of Mass Appeal,� he concludes, �whereas Tom takes to heart the official admonition of the church and the personal pressure from their much-admired priest, Father Raymond.�

Davis ultimately sums the play up quite simply.

�Brian wants to shape the thing that has shaped him,� he said. �Tom is haunted by the virtue of obedience. There are five separate spiritual journeys that result from Brian and Tom�s request.�

�Although Avow has the hook of gay marriage,� he opined, �it�s best in production . . . to focus on the universal themes of faith, commitment, obedience and family.�

Avow will play at 8 pm on July 31 for a special pay-what-you-can showing, and at regular price on August 1 and 2, as well as August 7-9. On Sunday, August 3, there will be a 2 pm matinee.

Tickets are $16, $14 for seniors and $12 for students. They can be purchased by calling 513-2417469 or 513-3691544.

Ovation Theater performs in the Fifth Third Bank Theater at the Aronoff Center for the Arts, 650 Walnut Street, Cincinnati. For more information, log onto or e-mail


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