Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-09-01



Looking at 'The State of Marriage': civil-rights issue of our times
Special to the Online Edition of Windy City Times
by Susan E. Block

This article shared 4121 times since Wed Jun 9, 2010
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

It is 5 a.m. While many St. Louisans sleep, there are a dozen or so couples boarding a chartered bus. The destination is Iowa City, Iowa. In the darkness of the morning, one carries a pillow for comfort on the nine-hour round-trip, another has a tuxedo folded over his arm and still another is cradling a sleeping child.

They are not unlike the civil-rights pioneers who traveled the Underground Railroad to freedom. They are just of another era, with cell phones, digital cameras and iPods.

Still, their journey is to achieve a status that is not lawful within the borders of their state. Same-sex couples are prohibited from getting married in Missouri.

They are taking the Show Me Marriage Equality Bus to Iowa.

When they return late that evening, they will exit the bus, two by two. But something will be very different. They will be married—at least in the great state of Iowa, where same-sex marriage is permitted and legal.

Organized by St. Louis gay activists Ed Reggi and Scott Emanuel, the Show Me Marriage Equality Bus has made three trips to Iowa since its inaugural journey in May 2009.

For noted playwright, director and civil-rights activist Joan Lipkin, artistic director of St. Louis' That Uppity Theatre Company, the historic bus trip was just the ticket to galvanize her latest production.

"I have been thinking about the changing face of marriage for some time—its history of often being based on property, the escalating divorce rate, as well as the increased interest in same-sex marriage," Lipkin said. "When Prop 8 passed in Nov. 2008 and the right to same sex marriage in California was repealed, as it subsequently was in Maine, it became increasingly clear to me that in some significant ways the rights of LGBT citizens were diminishing rather than advancing."

Thus, Lipkin—whose award-winning body of LGBT-themed theatrical works includes Some of My Best Friends Are…, Small Domestic Acts, The Date and Beyond Stonewall: Why We March—had the inspiration for her latest play. She planned to tell the story of the bus trip to Iowa within the larger structure of a heterosexual couple's wedding.

Lipkin says her initial image for the play was an earthquake that interrupts the traditional bridal walk down the aisle.

"It is as if the world is cracking open, and indeed, it is," Lipkin said. "I do not believe that the legalization of same-sex marriage in any way threatens heterosexual marriage. But as marriage is at the center of our collective imagination and considered to be a significant rite of passage, LGBT Americans will never be full citizens until they are accorded this right. I also believe that some of the bigotry aimed at lesbians and gays will diminish if they are allowed to marry."

This belief is shared by many of the play's cast members.

For Sara Hamilton, a 31-year-old who is raising a son with Shanon Hamilton, her partner of six years, acting in this piece has particular relevance.

"I have experienced many of the ups and downs that the characters in this show struggle with," Hamilton said

Keith Thompson, a 46-year-old financial adviser, took part in the first Marriage Equality Bus in May 2009, despite having had a commitment ceremony in 1997. He has been with his partner, Dan Dowd, a church administrator, for 23 years

An actor who specializes in musical theater, Thompson came out of 10 years of semi-retirement to do the show.

"We decided to marry in Iowa to take one small step toward true marriage equality for future generations," Thompson said. "We were married in 1997 in front of our family, friends and God, but we didn't have the legal rights."

For Thompson, involvement in the play has deepened appreciation of his decision to marry.

"I've learned while working on The State of Marriage what an important civil rights action we actually took," Thompson said. "Our marriage certificate from Iowa hangs framed in our bedroom. Every time I look at it, I smile."

Not everyone in the production identifies as LGBT. Theresa Masters, 43, is a computer instructor by day and a performer by night. She has been married to musician Larry Kornfeld, 50, for 15 years.

"I am always eager to work with Joan," Masters said. "She allows her actors to be such a fundamental part in the creation of the show. Plus, I find the presentation of the message in this piece to be both humorous and poignant, a hallmark of her inventive work."

In writing The State of Marriage, Lipkin incorporated real stories of the couples who tied the knot in Iowa.

Colin Murphy and Kurt Ross, his partner of 12 years, are one such couple. In March, the duo went aboard the Show Me Marriage Equality Bus for its third trip. A senior writer for the Vital Voice, an LGBT publication in St. Louis, and author of the column "One Out of Ten Ain't Bad," Murphy said that he was stunned by how much he was impacted by the short, simple ceremony.

"With us were the generations of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals who did not live to see this day," Murphy said. "We also walked down the aisle with future generations in mind—generations who will no doubt marvel that we had to leave family and friends behind and drive to another state to be married."

The civil-rights movements of Blacks and women are also far from over, but progress has been made in many areas of law and culture. The gap between women's income and men's income is closing, and many years have passed since laws existed forbidding interracial marriages.

Today's most dynamic movement is about LGBT rights. There are 1,138 federal benefits that heterosexual married couples enjoy that same-sex couples do not, simply because the latter cannot get married.

Because the play deconstructs marriage, Lipkin says that the form of the piece is unconventional as well. Regionally acclaimed drag performer Leon Braxton ( a.k.a. Dieta Pepsi ) heads a Greek chorus of bridesmaids that includes Hamilton and Masters.

At times, the theatrical fourth wall is fractured when performers ask audience members to read some of the benefits denied to same-sex couples or offer them wedding cake and then retract it.

"I believe that often the more difficult and complicated the subject matter, the more important it is to provide a humorous way to engage rather than threaten audiences," Lipkin said.

Like the arts in general, theatre is often ahead of the law. This will be especially true when The State of Marriage opens June 10.

Conceived and directed by Lipkin in collaboration with J.T. Ricroft and a co-production of That Uppity Theatre Company and St. Louis Actors' Studio, The State of Marriage will run Thursday through Sunday, June 10-20. It will be performed at the Regional Arts Commission in St. Louis, Mo. To purchase tickets, see .

A family-law attorney in Clayton, Mo., Susan E. Block is a former circuit judge. She has contributed to many publications, including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the St. Louis Beacon, and is a commentator for KSDK's "Just Sayin" segment.

This article shared 4121 times since Wed Jun 9, 2010
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

Frank Ferrante to return as 'Groucho' for one night 2021-09-15
- Actor/director Frank Ferrante returns to his internationally heralded stage performance for one night only in "An Evening With Groucho" on Tuesday, Oct. 26, at the Spiegeltent ZaZou, on the 14th floor of the Cambria Hotel Chicago ...

Gay News

THEATER Out actor Dan Butler to be in 'When Harry Met Rehab' 2021-09-15
- Don Clark, a Chicago-based film/theater producer as well as co-owner of the Chicago Magic Lounge, will present the world premiere of When Harry Met Rehab—a comedy that takes sobriety seriously and is based loosely on the ...

Gay News

Students urged to apply for Musical Theatre Awards 2021-09-14
- Broadway in Chicago is inviting high schools across Illinois to participate in the 11th Annual Illinois High School Musical Theatre Awards. These awards celebrate excellence in high school theater throughout the state. Beginning Thursday, Sept. 16, ...

Gay News

First Floor Theater announces 2021-22 season 2021-09-13
--From a press release - CHICAGO, IL (Sept. 13, 2021) — First Floor Theater is excited to announce their ninth live-production season, featuring one world premiere and one Chicago premiere, along with a second round of The Blueprint Commission, it' new ...

Gay News

AstonRep Theatre Company announces 2021-22 season: 2021-09-13
--From a press release - CHICAGO (Sept. 13, 2021) — AstonRep Theatre Company is pleased to welcome back live audiences this fall, kicking off with a revival of Yasmina Reza's frenetic dark comedy God of Carnage, translated by Christopher Hampton and ...

Gay News

THEATER 'Dear Mom, I'm Gay!' on Oct. 1-2 2021-09-11
- Dear Mom, I'm Gay!—a workshop of a new musical by David Dilsizian—is running at The Jarvis Square Theater, 1439 W. Jarvis Ave. It will take place at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 1; and 2 and ...

Gay News

Saint Sebastian Players to perform four shows during 40th season 2021-09-10
--From a press release - The Saint Sebastian Players (SSP) announce the company is resuming live, in-person production with an expanded 40th Anniversary Season. The four-play lineup celebrates genres that have been popular with SSP ...

Gay News

Victory Gardens Theater announces plans for 2021-22 season 2021-09-10
--From a press release - Chicago, IL— Victory Gardens Theater announces their 2021/2022 Season, which will be presented in-person at the Biograph Theater in Lincoln Park. The season will feature three mainstage productions: Queen of the Night by travis tate, the ...

Gay News

Broken Nose Theatre presenting Black LGBTQ drama 'Kingdom' Oct. 4-24 2021-09-10
- Broken Nose Theatre is launching its tenth season with an audio adaptation of its hit 2018 play Kingdom, written by resident playwright Michael Allen Harris and directed by Manny Buckley. Kingdom features ensemble members RjW Mays ...

Gay News

DANCE Ensemble Espanol to open Auditorium Theatre season Oct. 16 2021-09-10
- Ensemble Espanol Spanish Dance Theater, in residence at Northeastern Illinois University, will return to the Auditorium Theatre on Saturday, Oct. 16, at 7:30 p.m. The company will mark the finale performance of its 45th-anniversary "Zafiro Flamenco ...

Gay News

'Close-Up with Carmen' Sept. 9 at Center on Halsted 2021-09-08
- 'Close-Up with Carmen'—about the intersection of drag and opera—will take place Thursday, Sept. 9, at 6 p.m. at the Hoover-Leppen Theatre at Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted St. During this event, participants will discuss cross-dressi ...

Gay News

THEATER Neo-Futurists' 'The Infinite Wrench' returns to the stage Sept. 18 2021-09-08
- Chicago's longest-running late-night show, The Neo-Futurists' The Infinite Wrench, kicks off the company's 2021-22 season of programming with a return to weekly in-person performances on Saturday, Sept. 18. The signature ...

Gay News

THEATER 'American Mariachi' at Goodman on Sept. 18-Oct. 24 2021-09-05
- Goodman Theatre is running American Mariachi—a new comedy about the freedom to dream big, written by Jose Cruz Gonzalez, directed by Goodman Resident Artistic Associate Henry Godinez and presented as part of Chicago Latino Theater Alliance's ...

Gay News

MUSIC Upcoming 'Carmen' featuring queer lead, male drag 2021-09-05
- On Sept. 16 and 18 at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph St., Chicago audiences will have the rare opportunity to hear two world-class dramatic mezzo-sopranos debut new roles opposite one another ...

Gay News

MUSICALS Highland Park Players to run 'Matilda' Sept. 24-Oct. 3 2021-09-03
- The Highland Park Players return to live theater with the Tony-winning musical Matilda The Musical! opening Sept. 24 and running through Oct. 3 at the Northbrook Theatre, 3323 Walters Ave., Northbrook. Performances are Sept. 24-25 and ...


Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.