CA Press Doesn't Address Implications of Theater Director's Resignation Over Prop 8 Support

The litmus test results are in: If you're against the legalization of same-sex marriage and are discovered, you can't be involved in the performing arts in California, even though the majority of potential patrons in your state agree with you.

Under the pressure of a threatened boycott, the artistic director of a Sacramento theater has stepped down after it was learned that he contributed to Yes side ("yes, same-sex marriage should be prohibited") of the supposedly Golden State's Proposition 8 campaign.

Here's the opening of the Sacramento Business Journal's story (links were in original):

Scott Eckern, artistic director of the California Musical Theatre, is resigning his post and leaving the organization.

A boycott of the theater was called Tuesday by some in the national arts community when news broke that Eckern contributed $1,000 to the Yes on Proposition 8 campaign, which supported the ban on gay marriage.

The measure passed last week.

Scott Eckern said in a prepared release that he chose to express his view through the democratic process, and he was deeply sorry for any harm or injury he cause by doing so.

“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,” he said. “I am disappointed that my personal convictions have cost me the opportunity to do what I love the most.”

Eckern's statement reflects failed attempts made in the past day or so to backtrack and make nice with his critics. It's clear that nothing short of his resignation would satisfy those who called for a boycott.

It's not unreasonable to think that this might be the beginning of a purge of all same-sex marriage dissenters in the theatrical and entertainment communities in California, and perhaps elsewhere ("Are you now, or have you ever been, an opponent of same-sex marriage?").

The headline writers at the Sacramento Bee or the Los Angeles Times's Culture Monster blog have done their best to make the stories appear less ugly than they really are. Their respective headlines -- "Prop. 8 gift gets theater's leader in a ruckus" and "Prop. 8 repercussions hit Sacramento theater" -- give little indication of the free speech-stifling severity of the situation.

One person quoted in the SacBee piece is troubled by what he has witnessed:

"There's a great degree of hue and cry over getting Mr. Eckern fired," (Jeff) Whitty wrote. "I've searched my soul about this. I'm instinctively not comfortable with the idea of his dismissal, though my activist side still whispers, 'Punish!'

"I fear for what Mr. Eckern's dismissal would say about theater: that there's only room for the pro-gay crowd. In a way, if we only allow people we agree with, if we only allow people who share a broad sympathy for the human condition, then we become one of those dreaded fantasy 'elites.'"

Too late, pal. You profession has proven it's there already. The blacklist is back in full force in California's performing arts, and may be coming to your state or city soon.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.