Columbus--When Stonewall Columbus holds its third annual Commitment Faire on February 10, it will be more than a chance for vendors and consumers to connect.
Instead, in addition to tying in to Freedom to Marry Week, it will give those in attendance a chance to evaluate their commitments to each other, themselves and the issues facing the LGBT community every day.
�This year we�re expanding it, and the theme is �Commit to yourself, commit to your relationship, commit to your community�,� Stonewall executive director Kate Anderson said. �We wanted to open this up and help people feel good.�
She believes that the expanded scope of the event is especially important following the passage last November of the Ohio constitutional amendment restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples and barring recognition of any non-marital relationship in the state.
�This should help the healing after a difficult 2004 and we hope that everyone will come out and commit,� she said. �We have a fashion show, entertainment, the Columbus Gay Men�s Chorus, the Columbus Women�s Chorus and the Columbus Stompers. The fashion show will have LGBT leaders from various organizations around Columbus.�
Anderson herself, despite her trepidation, will be in the fashion show.
This will also mark the first time that the Commitment Faire will be presented as a partnership between Stonewall Columbus and the Ohio Freedom to Marry Coalition.
�This is the only event of this type in Ohio that is for the gay and lesbian population,� said the coalition�s Nick Staup. �What we�re trying to communicate in that is that everyone should have the opportunity� to get married.
Staup hopes to get the group�s message across to businesses as well as individuals.
�What�s good for the community in the big picture is good for business, and we�ve got a lot of vendors that agree,� he noted.
�Our main goal is to educate the whole community in Ohio that civil marriage and church marriage are two different things,� he said, noting that couples can go to a courthouse and get married without requiring the approval of any religious group. �A same-sex couple wanting a civil marriage won�t affect your church if you�re Mormon or Baptist.�
After the Faire, the next step for Ohio Freedom to Marry is the establishment of a speaker�s bureau.
�We will recruit and educate effective speakers who will then begin focusing on spreading a consistent message to Columbus and the outlying areas here,� Staup said. �We will be contacting religious groups, non-religious groups and businesses on how same-sex marriage is important, how it can benefit businesses.�
He also believes that, had the message been put out more that civil and religious marriage are two very different things, the outcome of the last election might have been different on Issue 1.
�That amendment passed with 60 percent of the population,� he noted. �In the long run, if we can educate that 20% that didn�t really know what they were voting for . . . �
Staup noted that the coalition�s web site, www.oftmc.org, is now fully active, and there is a link on there for the public to submit stories on what civil marriage means to them.
The coalition will also be starting satellite chapters in other cities once they are sure of their footing. Stonewall Columbus has been lending logistical support.
�They�re helping us network, different kinds of things we probably just wouldn�t be able to do on our own,� Staup concluded.
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