Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Is this a "solemn pronouncement"? (Scott Eckern resigns)

Followup to two previous posts.


AMERICAblog links to Scott Eckern's resignation statement after resigning from the California Musical Theatre:

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Nov 12, 2008 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Scott Eckern, Artistic Director for California Musical Theatre, released the following statement regarding his resignation. The statement is released as follows:

"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. I chose to act upon my belief that the traditional definition of marriage should be preserved. I support each individual to have rights and access and I understood that in California domestic partnerships come with the same rights that come with marriage. My sister is a lesbian and in a committed domestic partnership relationship. 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. This is a highly emotional issue and the accusations that have been made against me are simply not true. I have now had many conversations with friends and colleagues,and I am deeply saddened that my personal beliefs and convictions have offended others. My choice to support the Proposition was personal, and does not represent the views and opinions of California Musical Theatre or the many people associated with the organization. I was required by law to identify my employer and occupation at the time of my donation.

I have enjoyed my association with all the many fine staff members, artists and audiences over the years. I have strived to stay true to our mission of producing quality live theatre to enrich the cultural live of the community. In the course of my work, I have encouraged a work environment that is safe and creative, working together in an atmosphere of mutual respect. I have focused on producing shows with fresh eyes to allow the intent of the original creators to come through. I have not imposed my beliefs onto any of the works, but have sought to explore the truths found in the storytelling to speak for themselves if they are told well. I have enjoyed the opportunity to be alongside wonderful artists as we have collaborated on sharing productions that will both enlighten and entertain.

I chose to express my views through the democratic process, and I am deeply sorry for any harm or injury I have caused in doing so. I want to support not only my friends and loved ones, but everyone in their efforts to receive equal rights so I will be making a comparable donation ($1000) to the Human Rights Campaign. I hope that through future conversations bridges may be built and healing can occur that will allow us to arrive at a better place of understanding for all involved.

I am leaving California Musical Theatre after prayerful consideration to protect the organization and to help the healing in the local theatre-going and creative community. California Musical Theatre will continue to welcome with open arms all staff, artists and audiences who collaborate in the experience that live theatre does best -- to lift the human spirit. I will continue to be in the audience to cheer on all the good work. It has been an honor to serve alongside those I love and respect in this noble profession. I am disappointed that my personal convictions have cost me the opportunity to do what I love the most which is to continue enriching the Sacramento arts and theatre community."

Scott Eckern

AMERICAblog then goes on to say:

I'm preparing for the religious right and their Mormon financiers to start complaining that this man's resignation is a sign of "religious bigotry."...

So expect lots of solemn pronouncements about how oppressed they all are because one of their victims finally fought back.

It's lucky for everyone involved that Eckern chose to resign, because if he had been fired for his religious beliefs, the case would have ended up at the U.S. Supreme Court.


I don't know if this particular instance is religious persecution, but I find it chilling nonetheless.

Does this mean that the "Yes on 8" and the "No on 8" proponents will be searching donation lists, looking for other people to place on the unemployment line?

Frankly, it's already happened:

The letter from Yes on 8 came by certified mail, demanding at least $10,000. Jim Abbot knows exactly why he's being targeted - his business gave $10,000 to a group called Equality California, which supports No on Prop 9...

The letter says if Jim doesn't give an equal donation to Yes on 8, the name of his company will be published. It reads in part, "It is only fair for Proposition 8 supporters to know which companies and organizations oppose traditional marriage.

Some people were outraged that people would be targeted like that, so what did they do? They targeted people themselves:

We present the Californians Against Hate Dishonor Roll. We want the country to know who is funding the Yes on Proposition 8 campaign to take away marriage equality in California. So right up until the November 4th election, we will post all major donors on our web site. These are all donors who gave $5000.00 and over, many way over! We've taken public information from the California Secretary of State’s Office and added telephone numbers and web sites when available.

Ah, telephone numbers. So that people


It appears that Dave's view isn't being expressed all that much:

McDonalds, Apple, Google, P.G.&.E., Brad Pitt and others used the funds that I spent on their products, services or movies to fight a measure that I personally supported. While I didn't like it that they used my hard-earned money for this purpose, I didn't call for blacklists, protests or resignations.

In this case, apparently Scott was supposed to know that his personal donation would be unacceptable to many of the same people with which he had worked for 25 years at CMT. Apparently, it is a requirement to support same-sex marriage in order to work at CMT or in musical theatre at all.


The upsetting thing about this is that, depending upon your point of view, it's OK to retaliate against donors who didn't give to your cause. I look at it this way: if I don't want someone to fire me from my job because of my views, then I don't want to fire someone from their job because of their views. If you feel differently, then don't whine when you're on the unemployment line yourself.

Or perhaps the solution is to play it safe. Not publicly promote your views for or against a cause. Keep your opinions to yourself. If that's your view of a democracy, it's not mine.

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