Artistic Director of California Music Theatre Apologizes for "Yes On Prop-8" Contributions
While fighting for equal marriage rights, online watchdogs discovered that Scott Eckern, Artistic Director of California Music Theatre and Sacramento Music Circus had made a $1000 contribution towards the approval of Proposition 8. The information was discovered through publicly available online donation records.Proposition 8, a ballot measure looking to overturn the May, 2008 California Supreme Court decision granting marriage equality, was approved by a narrow margin on November 4th.In a widely circulated email from Broadway Actress Susan Egan, it was revealed to many in the community that the Tony Award-Winning composer Marc Shaiman had "expressed his disgust with the idea that a theatrical organization, employing and making money from gay artists and audience members, harbors an executive who uses a portion of his income to publicly support hate legislation." Her email went on to call for a boycott of California Music Theatre by "ticket-buyers, writers, musical directors, crew, designers and performers and more."Mr. Shaiman went on to send a follow-up email after he'd spoken to Mr. Eckern. Shaiman stated to him that "the idea that money from his salary that was, in a small way, made from a production of HAIRSPRAY had now been put to use to pass this bigoted Proposition truly hurt and sickened me and that no future project of mine would ever play his theatre." The story has been picked up by several media outlets and mentioned on internet chat boards including PerezHilton.com and BroadwayWorld.comUpon being notified of the feelings held by countless members of the theatrical community, Mr. Eckern issued an apology:"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."As has been revealed to Mr. Eckern and others who at first supported Prop 8, the rights afforded people by domestic partnerships and civil unions are not equal to those of married couples. This is in sheer contradiction to the advertisements used by the "Yes on 8" campaign. It was made clear to Mr. Eckern that the anger and betrayal felt by the community was not over his vote, but by his contribution towards an organization trying to win, by not being truthful about the facts. Mr. Eckern went on to say: "I definitely do not support any message or treatment of others that is hateful or instills fear. This is a highly emotional issue. I have now had many conversations with friends and colleagues and I now have a better idea of what the discrimination issues are, how deeply felt these issues are and I am deeply saddened that my acting upon my religious convictions has been devastating to those I love and admire...I am deeply sorry for any harm or injury I have caused."In addition to his apology, Mr. Eckern has made a contribution of $1000 towards the fight for equal rights for all.The first large-scale New York rally protesting the passage of California's Prop 8 will be held Wednesday, November 12th from 6:30-8:00 PM at the New York Manhattan Mormon Temple at 125 Columbus Avenue (65th Street).