Thursday, November 13, 2008

Backlash Whiplash

Everywhere I turn these days, gay rights supporters are advising against overreacting to the passage of Proposition 8 in California. "Don't become what they're saying you are," is the general gist of their advice. "Don't be intolerant, when tolerance is what you're asking for." And the culmination of their advice is "You'll just generate a bigger backlash against gays." Were they to finish that sentence it would read "... if you stand up too fiercely for your rights."

I go back and forth on this actually. On one hand, I understand not throwing out the baby with the bath water. There's no point in becoming a militant if what your ultimate goal is is to settle down and have a peaceful life. On the other hand, were it me ... were Bambino and I to have lived and married in California and then someone we knew, anyone, had the nerve (via their donations, or their votes) to pass judgement on how valid our marriage was, I know (because I'm bullheaded this way) that I'd spend every waking hour devoted to making them as miserable in every conceiveable way as possible. They would pay and then pay again and then pay again for such disrespect. And then Babmino would start in on them and, well, God help them then....

So I'm torn about how to respond to this article in the Times today about Scott Eckern, artistic director of the California Musical Theater in Sacremento, who resigned as the result of some pretty intense protests because he had donated $1000 to the effort to pass Proposition 8:

In a statement issued on Wednesday morning, Mr. Eckern said that his donation stemmed from his religious beliefs — he is a Mormon — and that he was “deeply saddened that my personal beliefs and convictions have offended others.”

His donation was brought to light by online activists angry about the measure’s success at the polls.

“I understand that my choice of supporting Proposition 8 has been the cause of many hurt feelings, maybe even betrayal,” Mr. Eckern said. “It was not my intent. I honestly had no idea that this would be the reaction.”

But the swift resignation was not met with cheers by those on either side.
Frank Schubert, campaign manager for Protect Marriage, the leading group behind the ballot measure, weighed in again on this latest response to the ban passing. I won't repost his comment, as I think that he of all people involved in the mess should just shut the fuck up for now. {OK, so I must get this off my chest.} Schubert, a nonentity in any other sense in my opinion, has been acting like he's some sort of community leader speaking for "the people" he's not some guttersnipe gun-for-hire. This "political consultant" (a slur where I come from) had the gall...the frickin' say "It's time for us to heal" in the aftermath of the vote. Seriously, Mr. Schubert...just take a very, very long vacation and stay away from a microphone for a while. You've done enough damage to have earned your tainted money.

The thing I keep coming back to when reading stories like this though, is the notion that anti-gay bigots will hurt us even more, that there will be significant backlash, if we don't acquiese and accept their judgment...if we don't let them adapt at their pace to change. Dan Savage warned of what they have planned in a column in the New York Times yesterday:
[W]hile Californians march and gay activists contemplate a national boycott of Utah — the Mormon Church largely bankrolled Proposition 8 — an even more ominous new law in Arkansas has drawn little notice.

That state’s Proposed Initiative Act No. 1, approved by nearly 57 percent of voters last week, bans people who are “cohabitating outside a valid marriage” from serving as foster parents or adopting children. While the measure bans both gay and straight members of cohabitating couples as foster or adoptive parents, the Arkansas Family Council wrote it expressly to thwart “the gay agenda.” Right now, there are 3,700 other children across Arkansas in state custody; 1,000 of them are available for adoption. The overwhelming majority of these children have been abused, neglected or abandoned by their heterosexual parents.

Even before the law passed, the state estimated that it had only about a quarter of the foster parents it needed. Beginning on Jan. 1, a grandmother in Arkansas cohabitating with her opposite-sex partner because marrying might reduce their pension benefits is barred from taking in her own grandchild; a gay man living with his male partner cannot adopt his deceased sister’s children.

These supposedly "pro-family" monsters can indeed inflict even greater harm on the gay community and their loved ones. But I can't keep straight now (no pun intended) whether this Arkansas law is already evidence of an anti-gay backlash (for Massachusetts, perhaps) or whether it's something we're not supposed to respond too strongly against for fear of even greater backlash. In other words, I've lost track and now have backlash whiplash.

All of which tells me to give up this handwringing and stand up for what I feel is right regardless of how it irritates the other side. The fight for equality is on...there's no turning back now. Connecticut residents can now legally marry regardless of the gender of their betrothed. New York will hopefully soon follow suit.

I honestly don't know how to feel about the fact that Mr. Eckern felt the need to resign in the face of the backlash for his donation. I would advise him to consider the same advice: Stand up for what you feel is right. Not quietly with donations you'd rather folks you work with not know about, but openly, proudly, triumphantly.

If you can't do that...then perhaps you need to reconsider what you feel is right.

Labels: politics


Anonymous Anonymous said...

great posting today, ed! the next to last line is especially powerful "Stand up for what you feel is right. Not quietly with donations you'd rather folks you work with not know about, but openly,proudly, triumphantly"

anything else is called a coward.

11/13/2008 10:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

This country will improve enormously when we impress upon its self-appointed moral agents that the burdens of belief fall to the believers, not upon the unbelievers. Do you see the Jews trying to criminalize pork? Then what business do the Mormons, Catholics, or anyone else have regarding gay marriage? If your credo damns homosexuality, have the decency to let everybody who doesn't arrange their lives according to literal readings of third-hand translations of Bronze Age literature make their own contractual arrangements.

Having just left the state of California, I was able to vote on Prop. 8, and I'm glad I made it that much harder to pass. To do so, I gave up the chance to vote for Massachusetts Prop. 1 to eliminate the state income tax, but the opportunity to help my gay brothers and sisters, plus the prospect of making the religious bigots feel less welcome in America, was too rich to pass up. Even now I'd like to invite the latter to fuck off to whatever theocracy will have them. Absolutely, let there be public displays of outrage directed at deserving targets: Eckern, Schubert, the senior leadership of the Political Action Committee of Latter-Day Saints, all of them. If someone invalidated my marriage, I'd do no less.

The good news is that eventually the gays are going to win this one. In the meantime, give 'em hell.

11/13/2008 10:45:00 AM  
Blogger ryan said...

I'm from Sacramento and know Scott personally since I worked for the theatre one summer. I always found it difficult to understand how he was able to balance his religious beliefs with his professional life, but he managed to do it very well -- never hiding his faith but also not wearing it on his sleeve, and always treating everyone with respect.

While I disagree with Scott's views on this issue and find them to be ignorant and discriminatory, I also think one has to acknowledge that until very recently they were the accepted status quo. That may not be right, but the political process is not about being right, it's about presenting your argument in such as way that convinces 51% of minds. I don't think punishing people for their closed-minded view on this issue is going to do that. It might yield some short-term victories but the backlash that it will incur will hurt the overall cause in the long term. The focus should be on swaying a mere 2.5% of the voting public to support gay marriage in California. Even if it is a righteous cause, boycotting a theatre whose producer is on the wrong side of the issue does little to achieve that goal, and in the process damages the entire company and polarizes the greater theatre community.

11/13/2008 11:47:00 AM  
Blogger Julie Sadler said...

Go Ed!
I see a serious parallel between this issue and the issue of religion. It's the us vs. them mentality. And it sucks.
As far as religion goes, the mass majority larger religions want to rule and wipe the rest off the face of the Earth. I used to just sit back and respectfully allow these folks to rule me. However, at this point in history, I think it's time to stand up for your beliefs. For me, it's turning out that I found so many more agree with me than those that don't! And religion is a changing thing in these times. Hopefully you will find the same is true with the gay issue...

11/13/2008 11:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

I'm not sure I understand the fuss about marriage. Every adult should be entitled to write a contract naming a person who has the rights to everything binded to them. That could include a non-sexual partner. This is basic human rights, no questions asked about who you sleep with.

They are too many different religions in the world to start bringing them in the issue.

All this because of the Leviticus which was one of the most illogic and stupidest book I ever read. God's words? My ass. That he would had a book of rules written precisely for the little people of Levites?? When there was a whole wide world going on around that?? Are you fucking kidding me?? And of course everybody remembered by heart what Moses was told 1400BC, and so when came the time to write it around 400BC, the words were perfectly remembered as in the way Yawveh told it. Yep...I'm sure I can write a book tomorrow about what God said to pope Sylvester II in year 1000. Makes total sense.

"A man shall not lie in a bed as with a woman". Yeah: more like "a man shall not lie about God", friendo.


Cedric C (not an atheist)

11/13/2008 12:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Franklin.

11/13/2008 01:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think we should have a Don't Ask/Don't Tell policy on religion. If consenting adults want to practice Mormonism, Catholicism, Voodoo, etc. (those are just examples; all organized religions should be treated the same way), behind closed doors, they should be allowed to do so, provided no one gets hurt. But it should remain a private matter. Personally, I can get a little sick to my stomach when people start talking about their relationship with god or, gaia forbid, praying in public. I find it unnatural but I try to be tolerant and not judge.

Oriane Stender

11/13/2008 02:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ryan, I want to disagree with you. If Scott's opinion is that gays do not have the moral right to marry and he is permitted legally to join with others to force his opinion upon gays, how can you say that those who disagree with him do not have the right to protest his decision? The law he supported impacts far more people than any boycott of a theatre does. Why is it ok for the anti-gay group to act upon their beliefs (and thereby diminish lives) but not ok for others to stand up for what they believe? For Christians, this is what "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" is all about.

As Olbermann pointed out, slaves were not permitted to marry because they were property and the slave owners had biblical justification for owning them. Multiracial couples were not permitted to marry and legislators had biblical justification for preventing them. All religious books have had different interpretations at different times. Until the Enlightenment, Christians were not permitted to loan money with interest - they were excommunicated for doing so.
To think that belief structures do not change with the times is delusional.

11/13/2008 05:32:00 PM  
Blogger Joanne Mattera said...

Obama must speak to this issue once he is inaugurated, because while the Mormons put a lot of money into mobilizing the Prop 8 vote, many of the Baptists and Evangelicals who put him over the top voted for it, essentially throwing us onto the tracks.

Here's what I hope will happen:

By Obama's second term, he should have appointed enough new Supreme Court justices to keep the country safe for the following 20 years. That's when the issue of same-sex marriage should come up for Consitutional protection, a la Roe v. Wade. And, at the same time, Roe V. Wade should be reaffirmed as well.

It will then take 20 years for opponents to try to dismantle the law, by which time it will be sufficiently entrenched that the children and grandchildren of the anti-marriage agitators will be so comfortable with their gay married next-door-neighbors, or themselves be married to a same-sex partner, that it will be a non issue.

Meanwhile, move to Massachusetts. You can get married. Annnnnnd you can smoke weed at your wedding! (The vote was overwhelming to decrimilinize small amounts of marijuana.) It's called "The Commonwealth of Massachusetts," but really, after recent events, it's more like "The State of Euphoria."

11/13/2008 06:33:00 PM  
Blogger Pretty Lady said...

I think it's a disgrace that this proposition was even allowed on the ballot. It's a transparent attempt by one minority to strip another minority of civil rights, using money, media manipulation, and the unthinking bigotry of the majority as leverage. I find myself so angry that I can't even see straight about it, much less care very much one way or another about one conflicted Mormon's career in musical theatre. Ed, I commend you for tackling the issue at all.

As I have pointed out on my blog, civil liberties as established by our Constitution are what enable religions such as Mormonism to exist in our country, unmolested by a non-Mormon majority. As you know, I believe that religion--even rigid, fundamentalist religion--plays a necessary role in the evolution of human moral reasoning, and that anti-religious sentiment does more damage than good. But I DO think that is is time that ALL religious people, particularly the fundamentalists, wrapped their minds around the fact that their own freedom is inextricably linked with the freedom of every other human being on the planet, that human beings are all different, and that not even God can change that fact.

Using the state to force one's own beliefs on other people is the opposite of Christian teaching; these people should be forcefully called out on their un-Christian and un-American behavior, forcefully and decisively.

11/13/2008 06:41:00 PM  
Blogger Pretty Lady said...

Forcefully! Grrrrr!

11/13/2008 06:44:00 PM  
Blogger Joanne Mattera said...

Whatever PL had for breakfast, I'm having tomorrow.
You are righteous, girl!

11/13/2008 07:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems fairly cut and dried to me. The folks who supported Prop 8 with money are welcome to do so- they're welcome to make the children of gay couples bastards overnight, they're welcome to deny the people who have given them business equal rights, they're welcome to try and stop gay friendly churches from doing what they want to do. What they're not welcome to do is bitch and moan and play the victim (which they have been doing- LOUDLY) when the people they attacked fight back and choose not to spend their money enriching those that shit on them. Frankly, I don't see how anyone who is gay or supports equal rights for gays can take a trip to Utah. Sundance should be interesting this year.

11/14/2008 12:38:00 AM  
Blogger tony said...

The real huffle-puffle behind all this, I'm convinced, is tied up with language and the accepted usage of a word -'marriage'. May I propose a parallel word to 'marriage' -one which can assume all the legal & moral weight of the familiar but which also allows a distinction. The word is 'allage'. It's a French word which means alloy and so the sense of uniting two elements/people is implicit and it also has the quality of sharing the three last letters of marriage. I'm sure this proposal will be offensive to some- and I apologise for that - but the damage being inflicted and the hardening of attitudes which can arise do not seem justified because we are content to stay confined within a language which was shaped throughout the centuries but which does not allow for a change in perceptual shift.

11/14/2008 06:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric Caspesyan said...

+++ I believe that religion--even +++rigid, fundamentalist religion--+++plays a necessary role in the +++evolution of human moral +++reasoning.

I don't think moral reasoning is what's behind a great portion of religions.

The logic I read behind abrahamic religions is that they were at the source, political movements.

Jews were originally a religious group formed by some Hebrews, often mistakenly referred as All-Hebrews. Either it was a group of rebels or survivors of something nasty from which they believed only Yawveh could have saved them (and maybe he did, if you are a believer). But the first 5 Torah books originated from Moses, a leader who led jew slaves to flee Egypt, and present an ideal case for a lost people in need of political identity (rebellion of Jews in Egypt was similar to the Maroons case in the Caribbeans). Torah even included a genealogy tree!! The catholics wanted to unify an empire of mixed christians and pagans. That information is all in the secret vaults of Vatican. Islam was all about arab identity against the mercy of the Crusades. Arabs are a proud people, as much as the Jews. The romans were crazy to think they could induce them.

The purpose of the main abrahamic books seems to have been confused by their writers with other interests like historical memory, cultural pride, social discipline, etc. When you read these texts (these assemblages of disparate texts), they seem full of unnecessary historical anecdotes that don't have much to do with spiritual belief. 80 per cent context, 20 per cent ideas, often embedded in conflictual morals.

Kabbalah is much more interesting but unfortunately is not the Torah (or Bible), and borrows from egyptian religions. There could be enlightning material there (to me there is in fact no doubt), or at least the original texts read more like cookbooks for spirituality.

I'm not suggesting Moses never met Yawveh, that Jesus wasn't a son of God, or that Allah wasn't friend with Mohammed. But I'm a strong believer in misinterpretation. I believed these so-called "sacred" abrahamic books are mere compendiums of rumours, that nothing is remotely sacred about them ("My God"...ahem (blowing fingers)... wouldn't make such difference between sacredness and non-sacredness), and that historical evidences will support these sayings in the future. I'm also a strong believer in human skills and imagination.

Where I'm not anti-religious is that I believe moral doesn't have to be guided, and if things are such as being Godly, than it will find itself within you. Moral to me is something that comes up from instinct. But the best moral you will get from a cat is not when it is trying to save its kittens from an imminent danger, but when it learns to befriend a nearby dog that just won't go away. That to me, is the source of moral. It is simply a natural learning processs about respecting life.


Cedric Caspesyan

11/14/2008 08:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Marilyn Picasso said...

Gay people should have one guy marry 5 other males, that would make the Mormons happy.

Mao or Lenin maintained that the only real change comes at the end of the barrel of a gun.

Wait long enough and some Divinity student will discover a new translation for the Leviticus verse from the original to Grk to Latin to the Tuetonic/Goth/Romance families to today's English. Maybe instead of lie in bed the mistranslation will be corrected to read 'dress up as a woman', and all anti-gay prohibitions in the bible will disappear and trannies will be the only ones going ape shit.

11/14/2008 09:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Dude, please get someone to proofread your comments before posting. I'm sure you're making some good points, but you can't expect to hold someone's attention through a long comment with so much grammatical confusion.

11/14/2008 09:37:00 AM  
Blogger ryan said...

While I disagree with Scott Eckern's views on this issue, I don't think anyone in the industry should have to pass a litmus test that they support gay marriage. If he ran a theatre company that was only for a gay audience, then I can understand the logic, but CMT has an extremely diverse audience -- many of whom were among the 52% of Californians who supported Prop-8. By boycotting the theatre it only polarizes the audience and threatens the stability of the company. Art organizations like CMT can provide an important dialogue on this. They should not be exclusive of certain views, even it those views are ignorant.

I also think these tactics go against much of what Obama embodies: pragmatism, moving past the culture wars, and not alienating those who you disagree with. The witch hunt tactics are not going to help the cause in the long term.

11/14/2008 09:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cant take the truth, can you Eddie? Al the more ammo for my argument.

Art collegia delenda est

11/14/2008 11:01:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...


I've asked you nicely...I'm done with that. You are not welcome here, your "truth" is not welcome here.

I'd rather not have to turn moderation back on and will be sure to let everyone know that your boorish refusal to respect my request that you not comment here is the reason it has been.

Please do not respond to this. Even one more comment from you will result in everyone else needing to wait for comments to be moderated. Just one, small comment from you will do that.

Be a mensch and don't do that. Please just go.

11/14/2008 12:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

+++get someone to proofread your +++comments before posting

Ah, come on. This is 2008, global communications. No one expects everyone to master English anymore. I know 4 languages and soon learning a fifth. I know I write badly, that's why I only blog-comment.

++instead of lie in bed the ++mistranslation will be corrected +++to read 'dress up as a woman'

That's already put into question.
Some argues that homosexuality was a current practice at the time, and that this phrase meant to acknowledge the gender with who you were having sex with. Not to call a man a woman and vice-versa. It might even had a mysoginistic tone.

Others argue that it meant to not have sodomy, but that wouldn't condemn other forms of gay love and sex. Other parts of Leviticus seem to tell about sex abuse (gay rape), but it isn't clear.

Note that the Leviticus is often described as being a "Priest Code for the Levites", which doesn't sound to me like something coming from a Godly Horse's Mouth, but I'd love to hear a theologist explain that to me.

One thing for sure is that homosexuality was not unknown in the pagan times of Jesus yet he never mentioned a word about it.


As far as St-Paul, apparently his words could be transcribed as meaning relations with underaged boys.



11/14/2008 12:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oops the gay rape is Lot from Genesis. This story is often reffered to in the Qu'Ran, but arab poets were having sex with young underaged boys, a bit like the greeks, and I can understand the common moral at the times to have wanted to prevent this. Somehow, people know that pedophilia is wrong. They just know it. The Lot story reeks of it.


11/14/2008 12:49:00 PM  
Blogger bgfa said...

Prop 8 will be overturned by the California Supreme court. I think they will agree with the argument that a fundamental change to the rights provided in the California Constitution requires a more stringent test.

Raising taxes in CA requires a 2/3 vote. Civil rights issues are not supposed to be subject to simple majority votes unless they are procedural.

I do believe this vote was an aberration. It came as a shock to most people, which is why the anti-8 campaign was not prepared, we really did not expect it to pass.

That shock has morphed into outrage. The demonstration Saturday morning at Los Angeles City Hall will be massive. Look for me in the crowd.

11/15/2008 04:56:00 AM  
Blogger bgfa said...

"Civil rights issues are not supposed to be subject to simple majority votes unless they are procedural."

Sorry, I meant to say that civil rights issues are not supposed to be subject to simple majority votes, but constitutional amendments can be subject to a simple majority if they are amendments that do not alter basic rights.

11/15/2008 04:58:00 AM  
Blogger Lisa Hunter said...

Here in Canada, even the conservative government doesn't try to overturn gay marriage. I can't believe this happened in California.

11/15/2008 01:22:00 PM  
Blogger C. L. DeMedeiros said...

Why can I have the misery of straight couples and get married???
I'm with my partner for 8 glorious years, and hoping for some leftovers from the so called married life...
Just kidding I wanna equal rights
I'm from Brazil and I cannot have my citizenship because I don't have a pussy...This is not right, is awful and make me feel half of I don't even know what...
If the name married bother them
we can called: narried, or zarried or warried...

11/15/2008 11:38:00 PM  
Blogger Henry Bateman said...

It's the problem with imaginary friends, their subscription is capricious.

11/17/2008 08:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Marilyn Picasso said...

Actually, Cedric my point was not to the content of my suggested new translation of the Leviticus. My point rested on any text derived from very distant oral traditions, 'author'ized as Derrida would say, by writing in one language, then translated etc. We have no idea really what any original statement may have been and are living w/ a book which is one addendum after another, stipulated by the controlling translators desires. Like all the corrections having been done to Leonardo's Last Supper. This all aside from the fact no one has ever shown how it is God activated any person's neural transmitters that clearly demonstrates that what was written was from God.

Prop. 8 is interesting since it has brought back together a camp that had been divergent. At least in university circles the LGBT had become frictionalized, if I can say, where Lesbian women were perceived as being subsumed under gay male issues, both of whom felt uneasy w/ transitioning genders. White middle class feminists were perceived as trying vainly to hold on 2a heteronormativity (Butler), putting them under question, whereas years ago they thought of themselves to have brokered the whole gender awareness.

I'm also getting the idea that this is not only about gays getting married, which threatens the Mormons, but the right to equality. Some men don't care about reenacting the primal scene of Ozzie and Harriet; they feel being formally married is being like THEM. I've heard more than one Lesbian friend say, why would I want 2b a Monogamite?

11/17/2008 09:45:00 AM  

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