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September 29, 2006

Bowman shares vision of an Ohio above minus-two

Toledo--Equality Ohio�s executive director Lynne Bowman proved the statewide nature of her organization on September 23 and 24, appearing in Toledo and Cleveland to present her �State of the Minus-Two State� address.

In the University of Toledo�s Nitschke Hall, Bowman explained how Ohio got its ��2� rating in a survey of LGBT equality across the country. Ohio was the only state in the nation to score below zero.

In an effort to understand where Ohio stood compared to other states, Equality Ohio set out to examine state laws around the country on safe schools, non-discrimination, hate crime, second-parent adoption, birth certificate changes and marriage equality.

�We didn�t know it was going to be that bad,� Bowman said.

She pointed out, though, that the 2004 election, in which an anti-marriage amendment was resoundingly passed by voters, had a bright side.

Equality organizations have sprung up across the state, including Equality Ohio. Voting statistics on the marriage amendment have illustrated many precincts that have more gay-supportive voters.

Two precincts in Toledo and eight in Bowling Green that voted against the amendment will be targeted in a canvass on September 30. There will be Turn Out Ohio canvassing across the state, and Equality Ohio will be organizing much of it an conjunction with America Votes.

Bowman also showed the film A Blinding Flash of the Obvious, about the 2004 repeal of Cincinnati�s anti-gay Charter Article 12, the only referendum victory for LGBT people in the country during the 2004 election. The film, made by People for the American Way, illustrates how progressive people of faith came together to allow protections for LGBT people in Cincinnati after more than a decade of such ordinances being banned by Article 12.

Bowman also recognized Equality Toledo�s Safe School Project initiative and announced her organization�s financial sponsorship for 2006 of $500 with the hopes of repeating the sponsorship in 2007.

Bowman then went from Northwest Ohio to Northeast Ohio for �Faith and Politics� at Trinity United Church of Christ in Cleveland, an event co-sponsored by the UCC Coalition for LGBT Concerns and hosted by Trinity and Liberation UCCs.

A brief worship service led by Rev. David Durkit of Trinity and Rev. Kurt Wieser of Liberation started the event, then Bowman came in as keynote speaker and gave a presentation which included Equality Ohio�s video, Two Visions, contrasting the politics of exclusion put forward by Rod Parsley�s Reformation Ohio with the inclusionary goals of Equality Ohio and its allies.

After Bowman�s presentation, attendees separated into two groups for different break-out sessions. One watched and discussed A Blinding Flash of the Obvious, while the other discussed �What Can Churches Do in Politics,� covering the legal ins and outs of political involvement by religious organizations.

Institutions like churches can campaign for issues, but not for candidates. However, when some issues become tied very closely to candidates, the lines become blurred, and churches can risk losing their tax-exempt status if they are not careful.

Bowman closed the day with a questions-and-answer session, then played piano for the final hymn. The daughter of a Methodist minister, she was a church pianist for years before stepping away from the keyboard two years ago.

All throughout her presentations in both Cleveland and Toledo, she stressed the importance of talking to people, letting them put a face to a demonized minority so they can decide for themselves how to vote.

She also urged people to give the three Ts--their time, talent and treasure--to organizations on the local, state and national level to effect change.

For more information about Equality Ohio and its activities, along with links to local organizations, go to www.equalityohio.org. The video Two Visions is available at www.equalityohio.org/twovisions.htm.

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