Bil Browning

Don't mess with the drama queens

Filed By Bil Browning | November 12, 2008 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, The Movement
Tags: California Musical Theater, California Musical Theatre, gay marriage, Human Rights Campaign, marriage equality, same-sex marriage, Scott Eckern, Yes on 8

File this under the "WTF were you thinking?!" file...

Lesbian-Hottie.jpgThe Artistic Director for California Musical Theatre, Scott Eckern, donated $1000 to support passage of Prop 8. After considerable outrage in the theater community, Scott has decided to resign his position. He'd worked there for 25 years.

But he has a lesbian sister and he's giving $1000 to HRC. That makes it all okay, right? I don't know about you, but it doesn't give me the warm fuzzies. Seriously, someone needs to tell straight people that the lesbian sister is the new black friend. Geez.

Eckern's resignation statement after the jump. He's soooooo sorry.

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

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Allan Brauer | November 12, 2008 6:27 PM

I'm a major donor to CMT and friends with several members of the staff.

I'm glad Scott resigned so that the wonderful organization can continue to deliver on its mission to bring the finest of musical theater to Sacramento.

The biggest irony of all: the current offering in CMT's Broadway Sacramento series is the touring production of The Color Purple. Thanks to CMT, audiences in Sacramento are crying and cheering the story of a black lesbian's struggle for respect and independence in the segregated south.

Wait a minute, he fucked us over, and he thinks that giving money to an organization which so far has been utterly incompetent will suffice for atonement? He even has a lesbian sister, for goodness's sake; what a cheeky motherfucker trying to play coy.

These are the kind of answers that piss me off the most, because they assume that we're happy with whatever crumbles we're thrown; that we are happy with being treated as sub-humans, jumping and doing turns as our heterosexual masters toss us a fragment of a bone.

God, we're up against some suffocating bastardy. Most worrisome, though, is that many people will see this guy as a victim. "He tried to express his religious views, and look what the queers have done to him!"

The Sacramento Bee's articles about this are already covered with apologists that are claiming that Ekern is being blacklisted a la individuals in the McCarthy era. To even make a comparison between this incident and McCarthy's witch hunts boggles my mind. And don't get me started on the other comments with non sequiturs.

Allan Brauer | November 12, 2008 9:35 PM

Most Sacramento Bee commenters fall somewhere on the political spectrum between James Dobson and David Duke. They spend their day spewing hate speech on the web, thinking they are influencing anyone's opinions with their ranting.

So he makes up for donating to Yes on 8 by donating to the HRC?

Wait until the trans folk get hold of him!


As a devout Mormon it must have been hard for him to donate to an organization his church opposes. We should probably give him some credit for trying to make amends. He may well feel caught between conflicting forces.

I have no sympathy for this guy whatsoever. He knew what he was doing and who he was doing it to when he wrote the check. Given that he'd been there 25 years he had to have a pretty good idea of what the community reaction would be, but he did it anyway.

No one asked him to speak out against the amendment and I doubt a word would have been said had he done nothing. He chose to vote to proactively discriminate against a minority group that is key in helping keep that theater which paid his salary in business. Now, he pays the price, and he deserves it.

And as far as I'm concerned which particular group he donated to is irrelevant here. One simply does not balance out the other.

boy we are truing in a bunch of haters.. It his right, to give money to whom ever he wants..

I see we are not beating up on all the other closet fags and dykes who didn't vote no on 8..

now that he was quit his job i can only hope the group he did work for fails.

we are a bunch of sore ass losers

You appear to be speaking out your sore ass, loser. Come back when you have anything relevant (or grammatical or properly spelled) to say.

I disagree. He certainly has the right to spend his money as he chooses, but it is also the community's right to express its dissatisfaction with that choice by withdrawing support for him and for events and institutions he is associated with.

Free will works both ways. He made his choice based on his beliefs and other people make their choices based on theirs.

I've come to expect the HRC bashing. My only comment about that is put your money where your keyboard is and start your own organization if you think you can do any better.

Hounding a man out of his job because of his deeply held beliefs? Why stop there, isn't there a queer gulag he can be shipped off to? Charges of McCarthyism are not too wide of the mark.

The California Musical Theater is I imagine supported by members of many communities. It should not be politically beholden to any of them. The only responsibility and duty it has to the community as a whole is to be a good steward of donated funds and to provide a high quality musical theater experience to the people of California.

A lot of digital ink gets spilled around here promoting the notion that people be judged on how they do their jobs not who they are. We either believe that or we don't.

"A lot of digital ink gets spilled around here promoting the notion that people be judged on how they do their jobs not who they are."

Eckern is not being judged on who he is: a Mormon. He's being judged because of a specific act: donating money - not to his church in general but to a political campaign whose goal was to marginalize gays and lesbians (sorry, but I'm not using 'LGBT' here; the language of Prop 8 said nothing about trans-anything - and carelessly using the phrase 'LGBT marriage' only (1) gives the Pro-8 mouthpieces ammunition to say that it does apply to trans people and (2) forces into play the question: What is a bisexual marriage? And I don't think any of the pro-SSM crowd actually wants the debate to go there).

So it would be ok then for queers to get fired from their jobs (or hounded out of them) for giving money to their political causes or writing on a blog about queer topics?

Your free speech rights are against the government.

If my employment depends upon getting along with management and supporting my customers, yes.

Would the head of the NAACP get fired for giving to racist groups? What if someone at NOW or Planned Parenthood gave to anti-abortion groups? They'd lose their jobs - for good reason.

While I understand your point, I think you're missing the larger understanding that comes with employment. If I'm working at McDonalds serving Coke and fries, who I give to is unimportant unless I'm giving to the competition.

He gave to the competition. It's the same as a non-compete clause in a contract.

Working for the California Musical Theater is no different than working for McDonalds or the local NBC affiliate. The mission of the Theater company is not to advance the political agenda of any group of people. but to provide a theater experience and theater education.

CMT does not specifically provide their mission statement on their website, but does refer to mission while talking but fund raising:

"Our mission is to enrich the cultural life of the community, to preserve and expand the American musical as an art form, to educate new audiences and to nurture aspiring artists. Ticket sales alone do not cover all of the costs involved. To achieve our goals we rely on the generous support of individuals and businesses. California Musical Theatre is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and all donations are tax-deductible."

The CMT does not compete in the marketplace with the Yes on 8 folks. As a matte of reality the folks that supported Prop 8 are potential customers, funders, and employees. One could even make the case that in accepting his resignation the Board has alienated a sizable chunk of its potential market.

Mr. Eckern should be judged on how he does his job, not on his politics. We should be more fair and open than our opponents.

"California Musical Theatre is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization"

See: Boy Scouts v. Dale.

End of discussion.

The notion that our jobs are isolated from public relations, and that they don't hinge on the relationships we have with people, is a rather naive outlook.

If you're working with people that have helped you achieved success, don't expect them to sit quietly once you screw them over. This donation was a gesture that directly attacked the lives of his peers; don't be so surprised when he is repaid in kind.

"he's giving $1000 to HRC"

Personally, I think this means he should have to resign twice.