Friday, November 14, 2008

Theater Director Forced to Resign by Homosexual Advocates

The artistic director of the California Musical Theater, a major nonprofit producing company here in the state’s capital, resigned on Wednesday in the face of growing outrage over his support for a ballot measure this month that outlawed same-sex marriage in California.

-- From "Theater Director Resigns Amid Gay-Rights Ire" by Jesse McKinley, New York Times 11/13/08

The artistic director, Scott Eckern, came under fire recently after it became known that he contributed $1,000 to support Proposition 8, which amended the state Constitution to recognize only male-female marriages. The measure was approved by 52 percent of California voters on Election Day. (Same-sex marriages had been performed in California since June.)

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.”

Marc Shaiman, the Tony Award-winning composer (“Hairspray”), called Mr. Eckern last week and said that he would not let his work be performed in the theater. “I was uncomfortable with money made off my work being used to put discrimination in the Constitution,” Mr. Shaiman said. He 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.”

Supporters of the marriage ban said that critics of Mr. Eckern were attacking freedom of expression, and they chastised the theater’s board for subjecting Mr. Eckern to a political litmus test.

In his statement Mr. Eckern said that he would donate $1,000 to a gay-rights group, adding that he respected gay people, including a sister who is a lesbian.

Susan Egan, a Broadway actress (“Beauty and the Beast”) who landed her first professional job at the California Musical Theater, said she had been saddened by both Mr. Eckern’s actions and her own involvement, which included posting a letter on her Facebook page supporting the idea of boycotting the theater.

To read the entire article, CLICK HERE.