Thursday, November 13, 2008

Can Anyone Really Be This Stupid?

I know I'm a bit late on this -- I was away from my computer most of the day yesterday -- but having finally read what Scott Eckern, who resigned as artistic director of the California Musical Theater on Wednesday amid protests over his $1,000 donation to the anti-gay Yes on Proposition 8 campaign, had to say for himself, I gotta admit: I'm a bit baffled.

In what universe does a statement like "I understand that my choice of supporting Proposition 8 has been the cause of many hurt feelings, maybe even betrayal. It was not my intent. I honestly had no idea that this would be the reaction" make sense? He's been working with the gays for more than 25 years; he knows we're a bit on the sensitive side even when we're not being stripped of newly granted marriage rights by our "loving and supportive" friends and relatives and coworkers.

Eckern used those words -- "loving and supportive" -- to describe himself as the brother of a lesbian sister, saying, "I am loving and supportive of her and her family, and she is loving and supportive of me and my family. I definitely do not support any message or treatment of others that is hateful or instills fear." (I don't know how that would wash in your family, but my home state voted to ban gay marriage several years ago, and if my brother had been in favor of it and I found out about it, I'd have probably kneed the bastard in the groin. Repeatedly. Every time I saw him, for the rest of his life.)

Did he realize what Proposition 8 was when he made a donation in support of it? Eckern's explanation for the check, which he now says he'll balance with a $1,000 donation to a gay-rights organization (like that really evens things out in any way), was, "I chose to act upon my belief that the traditional definition of marriage should be preserved." But let's be clear. He loves the gays and the families of the gays in all their untraditional, not-heterosexual gay gayness. In fact, some of his best sisters are gay!

Honestly, I don't know what to say about situations like this. I haven't the faintest understanding of how someone like Scott Eckern can reconcile what his (Mormon) church has taught him about the acceptability of institutionalized bigotry with his support of his sister's family. Nor do I understand how someone who has spent 25 years working in the world's gayest industry this side of dog-grooming could possibly vote to take away the rights of so many of his colleagues and his theater's patrons and not anticipate a negative reaction.

I think it's very unfortunate that Eckern is now out of a job -- though I wouldn't be surprised if he's quickly offered a new one by a group that shares his politics. (Remember the homophobic landscapers who later claimed the dust-up over their refusal to work for a gay couple was good for business?) But it's more unfortunate that he wrote that check in the first place.

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