Thursday, November 13, 2008

moron mormon more on marriage

the fallout from the november 4th passage of california's proposition 8 has been surprising and strong. in the words of dan savage:
"Gay people generally aren't the placard-waving, bomb-throwing, chaps-wearing, communion wafer-stomping radicals we're made out to be... Most gays and lesbians are content to be left to alone; many gays and lesbians go out of their way to ignore political threats and political activism and political activists. Only when gays and lesbians are attacked—only after the fact—do gays and lesbians take to the streets."
scott eckern, artistic director at california musical theater, donated $1000 to the pro-prop 8 camp, came under fire from high profile theatre-folks like marc shaiman (composer, hairspray) susan eagan (actress) and others, and ended up resigning from his post. this was met with cheers from some in the community, but not all. kel munger, theatre critic for the sacramento news and review writes:
"Forcing Eckern out of a career he loves—and has been exceptionally good at—only hurts the movement for equality. It also hurts the artists—gay and straight—who have benefited and would have continued to benefit from Eckern‘s talent and expertise. It hurts the community—gay and straight—for whom musical theater is a place where many cultures meet (usually with a lot of laughter, a few tears, and some dancing)."
from the tuesdays comment section, laurin points out that on a practical level, progressives (including the gay community) need a more effective campaign model:
"Progressives have to figure out how to run more effective issue campaigns... There's obviously not an easy answer -- as these fights have been fought all over the country for a decade and there's only been one successful one -- but there's an inherent problem in not having a more streamlined, accountable campaign model, and that needs to be figured out."
for now we've moved on to a more raw, emotional form of expression: marches, rallies, and protests. protests around california have been civil (despite some missed fed-ex deliveries and an injured policeman) but highly visible. a protest in new york city this week was 3000+ strong.

the mormon church, who funneled tens of thousands of dollars into a pro-prop 8 campaign in california (including it's own "blacklist" – "The names of any companies and organizations that choose not to donate in like manner to but have given to Equality California will be published" they warned in fundraising letters) has been the focal point for much of the protest ire. but others, including individuals like eckern, have also been targeted.

and there's more to come: this saturday is a national day of protest with rallies and marches being planned in cities all across the country. the website join the impact lists information on protests in cities like fairbanks, alaska, charleson, west virginia, milwaukee, wisconsin, nashville, tennessee, orlando, florida, and hundreds more.

i think it's important in this struggle to be vocal and open, and to educate. the more discussion and dialogue among family members and friends the better. and these displays of unity among our community are vital. we are not going away, this is not about your faith or your religion. my relationship, my possible marriage, in no way threatens yours. i don't want to be married in your church, i'm not fighting for the right to be married in your church, and more than likely i don't even want to come to your church, thank you.

but i'm also reminded of my own personal struggle to come out to a mother who was used to seeing television coverage of things like gay pride parades in san francisco, and anita bryant. "is that what you are?" was my mom's question. in her mind, i would soon be wearing a dress, or a leather vest with butt-less chaps, or a harness. or all three. okay, so she was right. that aside, i didn't need to scare her.

and in time, she came to love me even deeper, understand me, and fully support me and my relationship. she came to realize that i was born with these feelings, they weren't taught to me (like her religion had been taught to her.) she came to realize that i still left my wet towel on the bathroom floor, i still didn't enjoy vacuuming or dusting, and that my relationship with another man was just as normal (if not more so) than her relationship with my father. but it took some tough words from both of us, and some butted heads.

the gay community is not unfamiliar with protest, civil unrest and civil disobedience. the modern gay movement began in 1969 with the stonewall riots. in 1987, larry kramer started act up in response to what he felt was the gay men's health crisis inability to fight the necessary political fight to end aids and aids discrimination. we would not be where we are today were it not for the grit and determination of the people who fought those fights and others (and continue to.)

blacklists, however, only fuel hate. hate vs. hate gets us nowhere. we're struggling for something based in love. hate should not be part of the equation.

as we in the gay community fight for the right to marry – a civil right we deserve – we should march, shout, yell, and do what we need to do (i'll be right there with you.) but let's keep in mind how we won the hearts and minds of our own families: through honesty, courage, perseverance, and example.

photos from the new york city march against prop 8, courtesy of andrew parkhurst.


  1. Dear Tony,
    Will you marry me?
    Love, Richard

    (Great site by the way!)

  2. To.

    As a younger gay man, I respectfully disagree. Emphasis on the younger. And the respectfully.

    Forget my mother, IIII was the one watching the pride parades going "Is that what I have to become!?"

    It isn't (duh). And this, to me, isn't that.

    I'm sure you know more than me, from first hand experience, what, if anything at all, these types of protests accomplish. But we are taught that in our recent history (for me, it's history. I wasn't alive.) that civil rights campaigns were fought and won with such civil disobedience. And yet when does that happen? We become complacent and happy to let others have their way over ours.

    What's wrong with a blacklist used for the purpose of a boycott? What's wrong with marching outside a mormon church (not your point, but others')? Why shouldn't Scott Eckern step down? Sure, he has the right to donate to whatever he wants, and he has the right to vote whichever way he wants, but mustn't he also suffer the consequences within his own community?

    I know, I KNOW it sounds insensitive. We all have the right to disagree in this country, and that's fine. But you can still disagree with gay marriage, when there IS gay marriage. Standing in the way of someone else's civil right should not be taken lightly, should not be taken by turning the other cheek and patiently allowing it to happen again, and again, and again...

    I'm glad we're taking to the streets. What we need is a leader, who will give us a unified voice.

    And if it's someone from musical theatre, it'll be one hell of a voice, that can peel paint off the walls, and hit really high notes on a good day.

  3. bt –

    you go girl. ;)

    look, i don't disagree with your disagreement. (?) i think protests are crucial and important. and like i said, i will be marching along with you once i get back to the united states.

    but i think there's a fine line between...oh you know. and i think the protest needs to be accompanied by dialogue. in and amongst our own families and friends.

    to be honest, i'm not sure how i feel about the CMT thing. do i think we have the right to refuse the rights to our plays, cancel our subscriptions, not accept jobs? absolutely. but i think we need to be careful about punishing people for having different views. then again...when their views directly effect my civil rights...

    marc shaimen had more to say about the CMT situation. from

    "(Shaimen) added, however, that the entire episode left him "deeply troubled" because of the potential for backlash against gays who protested Mr. Eckern's donation. "It will not help our cause because we will be branded exactly as what we were trying to fight," said Mr. Shaiman, who is gay. "But I do believe there comes a time when you cannot sit back and accept what I think is the most dangerous form of bigotry."

  4. I read your point about talking to our friends and families a few times and I just think you are so right.

    It can be the hardest kind of education, but spreading the information among our own personal communities is the best start we can give.

    Well put.

  5. To,

    I'm so glad you are having this dialogue. I think there is a large portion of young people that think yelling hateful things, and making threats against people whose beliefs don't line up with theirs, is taking a step toward changing the world for the better. Sadly a lot of these people are hurting an extremely important movement. If nothing else, I would hope that people learned respect from the (60's) civil rights movement. I have yet to find a speech or statement from a civil rights activist (of that era) that puts down another group of people in order to raise up their own. Unfortunately that seems to be happening A LOT lately.

    And I know it's not everyone, but a few people can ruin it for all of us.

  6. Cletus,

    It's not about putting anybody down.

    But there are certain people, even people in the gay community, who think that any sort of civil outcry and civil disobedience is useless, or unproductive. I believe these are the same "higher-ups" who script our campaigns so that no one says offensive words like "gay" or "children" or "families." We need to start battling this on OUR terms.

    In my opinion, there are too many older generational gay people who are still sub-consciously seeking approval from the exact same society that built them their closets. And that won't help us raise up our own cause either.

    I don't think violence or hate is ever the answer, and I'm not condoning revenge tactics, but I do think a good old fashioned march/boycott/protest does everyone little good every now and then.

  7. BT,

    I completely agree with you. I am not saying marching and protesting are a bad idea, I'm saying there are those that should take a look in a mirror before holding a sign accusing someone of spreading "Hate" while spewing hateful things at the same time. And I've been to some of the protests, and seen it way too much coming from people standing next to me, fighting for the same cause.

    Fight for what you believe in, that's the only way to make your voice heard, but people are going to hear EVERYTHING you say. Make it count.

    And again I realize, and hope, this is a small minority of people. But these are the people my (not so open minded) family remembers, and the ones that they will be quick to bring up when it comes to blows. OUR message is very quickly lost on them when they hear hateful racial slurs used by people claiming to care about the rights of EVERY citizen.

    So yes, take to the streets by all means, but the people you put down are the people that are going to fight harder against us.

  8. guys, i don't mean to move this discussion, but it's worth including these comments as well, from a later post.

    i will say, bt, that you mention "older generational" members of the gay community as being the ones who are "seeking approval" from society.

    keep in mind, in 1989, 4500 of those older generational gays marched on st. patrick's cathedral in new york during mass in a demonstration directed toward the roman catholic archdiocese's public stand against AIDS education and condom distribution, as well as its opposition to abortion. (one-hundred and eleven of them were arrested.) this is just one example of the kind of protesting ACT UP did in the 1980's.

    if we need to learn about protesting, and making our voices heard, we need to look no further than those folks who were the ones on the front lines of the aids fight. i disagreed with some of their methods, but it was their fight and struggle that changed much of the perception of the gay community. and got a lot done.


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