Equality Cabaret’s PRE-BENEFIT PHOTOSHOOT – Saturday, January 25, 2014 between 11:00a.m. and 3:00p.m.

Eq Cabaret Pre Photoshoot Logo

Prior to the Equality Cabaret, The Jim Toy Community Center is having a free PRE-BENEFIT PHOTOSHOOT for all families who support marriage equality.  All couples and families are invited, regardless of sexual orientation.  Photographs will be used as part of the Equality Cabaret on February 23, 2014 at the Ark in Ann Arbor.

The Equality Cabaret is a benefit of the Michigan Marriage Challenge presented by the Jim Toy Community Center. Proceeds will be used to help fund legal expenses associated with the DeBoer v. Snyder lawsuit. The DeBoer case represents a direct, effective and rapid means of securing marriage equality in Michigan and the trial is scheduled to kickoff soon.

The Pre-Benefit photoshoot will be held at the Jim Toy Community Center at 319 Braun Court, Ann Arbor, Michigan on

Saturday, January 25, 2014
between 11:00a.m. and 3:00p.m.

Attendees will hold signs showing their first names and the amount of time they’ve been together. Obtaining marriage equality in Michigan is about YOU, so please take time to come show your support!

More information, including how to buy tickets to the Equality Cabaret, is available here:


At the photoshoot, we will also have special supporter and benefactor tickets available for purchase, along with general admission seats.

If you cannot attend the photoshoot, but would like your family’s photo to be considered for the benefit, please email a high resolution photograph to kerene.moore@gmail.com. Don’t forget to include your names and the number of years you’ve been together!

To learn more about the family and the case or to donate on-line: http://www.michiganmarriagechallenge.com/

To donate directly to the cause: http://www.gofundme.com/marriageequalitymichigan

Equality Cabaret: Making Marriage Equality a Reality — Sunday, Feb. 23 at 1pm

Equality Cabaret: Making Marriage Equality a Reality

Presented by Jim Toy Community Center to benefit Michigan Marriage Challenge.

(From left) Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer with their children, Ryanne, 3, Nolan, 4 and Jacob, 3, in their Hazel Park home on March 6. The Oakland Press/VAUGHN GURGANIAN.

(From left) Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer with their children, Ryanne, 3, Nolan, 4 and Jacob, 3, in their Hazel Park home on March 6. The Oakland Press/VAUGHN GURGANIAN.

Sunday, February 23, 2014 1:00PM at the Ark in Ann Arbor.

Ticket prices:

  • $250 – Benefactor floor front row reserved-name on program and from the stage
  • $100 – Supporter reserved seating and name on program
  • $25 – General Admission

Purchase tickets here: https://www.vendini.com/ticket-software.html?t=tix&e=8950eb5a29a3edcd1511ac30fa841cc8

PRESS RELEASE – Line-Up Announced:

 For immediate release: Line-Up Announced

Press contact: CYNTHIA DUNITZ 734-604-0396. cynthia@flemingartists.com

Equality Cabaret Making Marriage Equality a Reality

Jan. 22, 2014—Artists from Southeast MI are fighting to make marriage equality a reality in Michigan. In partnership with the Jim Toy Community Center, the artists have given their time and talent to raise critically needed funds for the DeBoer-Rowse Family to legally co-adopt their three children.  A benefit for the Michigan Marriage Challenge, presented by the Jim Toy Community Center will be held on Sunday, February 23, 2014 at 1pm at The ARK, 316 S. Main, Ann Arbor, MI, 734-761-1800.   Tickets:  $250 Benefactor – reserved seating house floor front & center, $100 Supporters – reserved seating house center and $25 General Admission. Tickets on sale at the Michigan Union Ticket Office 734-763-TKTS or online at https://www.vendini.com/ticketsoftware.html?t=tix&e=8950eb5a29a3edcd1511ac30fa841cc8

This benefit is an opportunity for supporters of marriage equality to help make it a reality. Emceed by U of M Professor Holly Hughes, the evening will feature artists, such as: singer songwriter Vienna Teng (viennateng.com/), folk duo Nervous But Excited in a greatly anticipated re-union (nervousbutexcited.com), Mr. B, Chris Good & the Sweet Insurrection, Eleni Kelakos, Mark Brown as Sylvia, Dueling Divas, Dawn Richberg & Vanessa Marr, Max Brown & Family, and Matt Rice.

Help the DeBoer-Rowse Family: Hazel Park lesbian couple April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse are suing the state of Michigan for the right to legally wed and thereby co-adopt their three children. Their case represents a direct, effective and rapid means of securing marriage equality in Michigan.

The state licensed the two nurses as a couple to serve as foster parents of their three special needs children, but Michigan law allows only legally married couples to jointly adopt children.  This civil right, afforded all others in Michigan, is not available to the DeBoer-Rowse family due to Michigan’s constitutional ban on state recognition of same-sex couples.  Because they are prohibited by law to adopt jointly, Rowse adopted their two sons, and DeBoer their daughter.

A team of attorneys is working hard on the family’s case; however, bringing in expert witnesses to demonstrate to the court that same-sex couples are fit parents is expensive. The lawyers estimate the witnesses and other legal expenses could cost 500,000 to $700,000. Federal Judge Bernard A. Friedman, of the Eastern District of Michigan, will begin hearing evidence in DeBoer v. Snyder in late February. The team of attorneys includes Carole Stanyar, Dana Nessel, Ken Mogill, Robert Sedler, and Mary Bonauto.

To learn more about the family and the case or to donate on-line: http://www.michiganmarriagechallenge.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/441179332649684/


Jim Toy’s Birthday Bash—Save the date!

Pic from http://www.whisk-kid.com/2009/08/say-it-with-cake.html

On Friday, April 12, from 7 to 10pm we’re hosting a Jim Toy Birthday Bash and JTCC fundraiser at the Corner Brewery Lounge in Ypsilanti. Additional details are forthcoming, but the long and short of it is that this will be a social gathering to celebrate the birthday of our namesake and to fundraise for the Jim Toy Community Center to support its efforts in the pursuit of equality.

We hope to see you there!

Pic courtesy http://www.whisk-kid.com/2009/08/say-it-with-cake.html

World Music Dance Party on Saturday, 9/24 (Benefit for JTCC)

Come dance to celebrate diversity and support JTCC. Meet new friends and dance to music from all over the world!  Tickets available below by Paypal, by phone 734-424-2797 or at the door. $10 each or 2 for $15. For more info, contact Carole777@aol.com.  Co-sponsored by Interweave of UUAA.

Join us on Saturday, September 24, 7:30 – 11 pm, at the First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Ann Arbor (UUAA), 4001 Ann Arbor-Saline Road, Ann Arbor, 48103

Click to purchase tickets online:

Single Ticket @ $10

Two Tickets @ $15

A Letter from the President…

A big and heartfelt THANK YOU to all those who attended, or in other ways supported, An Evening with Judy Shepard! 

The evening was magical, and many personal thanks are due to many people for their efforts and support of the Jim Toy Community Center’s first event.  The Board is grateful for all of the positive comments from attendees and we wish to humbly thank all of the volunteers who made the magic happen.  The evening was a huge, HUGE success!  Huge kudos go out to those at Out for Business and Spectrum Center of the U of M for collaborating with JTCC on this event, as well as our Co-Sponsors, auction donors, and Honorary Chairs.

We have made new friends and renewed friendships in the community.  We look forward to these friendships growing!

The focus of the evening was touching to everyone, as we all are someone’s child,  and some of us have children.  Judy Shepard is a phenomenal human being.  Having suffered the greatest loss any mother could bear  -the loss of her son Matthew -she has not shied away from life due to the tragedy.  She has instead chosen to fight back against hate and intolerance.


Judy has dedicated her life to this fight, and eloquently brought her message to Ann Arbor, stating to the audience at the dinner event “This is what happens when you piss off someone’s mother!”  It is for this dedication that Judy was presented with the first Jim Toy Lifetime Achievement Award. 

During the evening University of Michigan’s recent student body president Chris Armstrong was also presented with an award from the Jim Toy Community Center for exhibiting unparalleled leadership, humility, patience and grace under pressure during his tenure as the first openly gay leader of the student group, experiencing homophobic assault while under the intrusive and relentless scrutiny of news organizations and television.


Our biggest thanks go to Judy Shepard and Chris Armstrong for appearing, sharing their stories and inspiring us, and to Miller-Coors for their unfailing support of Judy, the Matthew Shepard Foundation, and the Jim Toy Community Center!

Linda Lombardini, President

Jim Toy Community Center Board of Directors.

For more on the evening, go to:


An Evening with Judy Shepard—Saturday, April 2, 2011

Join us for an inspiring and empowering evening with Judy Shepard.

Requested donation for the dinner is $85. A donation of $50 will sponsor a graduate student’s participation in the dinner. The donation to be named an Honorary Chair, which includes one dinner ticket, is $150. The donation for Host Committee status, which includes two dinner tickets at the head table, is $500.

Dinner – $85 Donation*

Host Committee – $500 Donation*

Honorary Chair – $150 Donation*

Graduate Student Sponsor – $50 Donation*

Suggested donation for those attending the speech but not the dinner is $5, payable by cash or check at the door.

Speaking from a mother’s perspective, Judy Shepard has made the prevention of hate crimes the focus of her efforts, and urges her audiences to make their schools and communities safe for everyone, regardless of their race, sex, religion, or gender identity and/or expression.

On Saturday evening, April 2, activist Judy Shepard will keynote a fundraiser at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business to benefit Ann Arbor’s Jim Toy Community Center. Sponsored in cooperation with the Ross School’s LGBT student group, “Out for Business,” the evening will include a 6:00 pm banquet followed by Shepard’s address at 8:00 pm.

In 1998, Judy Shepard lost her son Matthew, a University of Wyoming student, to an anti-gay hate murder that stunned the nation. Determined to prevent her son’s fate from befalling others, she established The Matthew Shepard Foundation to help carry on his legacy.

The 6:00 p.m. dinner and program will be held in the Ross School’s 6th floor Colloquium. Long-time LGBTA activist Jim Toy will be honored with the establishment of a life-time achievement award named for him.

At 8:00 p.m., Judy Shepard will speak in the Ross School’s Blau Auditorium. High school group Riot Youth will perform a theater piece entitled “Gayrilla.” Chris Armstrong, University of Michigan Student Assembly President, will be recognized for his courageous behavior in the face of a personal harassment campaign by a former Assistant State Attorney General, which drew national attention.

The main door to the Ross Business School is at 701 Tappan, between Hill and Monroe Streets in Ann Arbor. In addition to valet parking, the business school parking structure is around the corner on Hill Street. It is open without charge beginning at 5 p.m. that afternoon.

Please note: in order to comply with University regulations for the serving of alcohol, your donation cannot be recorded as the purchase of a meal that includes alcohol. However, in light of your donation, before you attend Judy Shepard’s 8 p.m. presentation, you will be served a 6 p.m. meal including alcohol at no charge.

Double Your Gift!

The Jim Toy Community Center Receives $5,000 Challenge Grant from MillerCoors

The Jim Toy Community Center (formerly the Washtenaw Rainbow Action Project) is engaged in an End-of-Year Appeal and is excited to announce a $10,000 donation from MillerCoors. The donation includes a $5,000 corporate sponsorship in support of OutFEST held annually in September and a $5,000 partnership grant that will allow the Jim Toy Community Center to match and double the value of donations during the month of December. In addition to helping to increase donations to the center for ongoing programs, the grant funded a Washtenaw Anti-Bullying Summit scheduled for Jan. 9.

“We have always had a special relationship with MillerCoors,” says outgoing president Barry MacDougall. “They have been an important and long-term supporter of our community center. We are pleased that MillerCoors has been able to support our mission with this much-needed grant.”

“We have exciting plans for 2011,” says incoming president Linda Lombardini. “There is tremendous momentum in the community, and this funding will allow us to move forward with our ambitious programming goals.”

The Jim Toy Community Center is a resource center that exists to provide information, education, social events, and advocacy by and for the Queer and Ally community in the Washtenaw County area. The Jim Toy Community Center envisions an inclusive community where people of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity are visible and live together in equality, respect and happiness. The Center welcomes all who support its mission to participate in its activities.

The Jim Toy Community Center is at 319 Braun Ct. in Ann Arbor’s Kerrytown area. For more information about the Anti-Bullying Summit, contact Terry McGinn at tjmcginn@umich.edu. For more information about the challenge grant or the Jim Toy Community Center, contact Linda Lombardini at 734-216-6415 or Linda@TrilliumRealtors.com.

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