Mormons Protest the Resignation of Anti-Gay Theater Director
November 12th, 2008
Scott Eckern, the Artistic Director of the California Musical Theater in Sacramento, has not had a good week. On Friday, Jeremy at GoodAsYou noted that Eckern had given $1,000 to the campaign to eliminate marriage rights of – let’s be real – a large percentage of people in Eckern’s business.
This did not sit well with Marc Shaiman, the composer of Hairspray, whose show ended the company’s summer season. He called Eckern and told him:
“The idea that your donation came from a salary that for a short amount of time was drawn from profits from a show I wrote upsets me terribly and I would never allow anything I write to play there and will encourage my colleagues to consider doing the same.”
Several others in the theater world were equally horrified. The theater company found themselves faced with a resentful performers, a black-list from creators, and ill will from much of their audience. I think it’s no secret that those who delight in musical theater – gay or straight – are not likely to have voted in mass for Proposition 8.
Eckern did the honorable (and only possible) thing and resigned his position:
“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,” he said.
His Mormon Church supported his decision.
I may be a bit cynical but I’m inclined to think that the evidence shows that what he really loved the most was adhering to the anti-gay doctrines of his church. Otherwise he’d still be doing all that enriching.
Well the story isn’t over. Protestors have come out to support him.
“This is a witch-hunt,” said Lance Christensen, who says he’s a regular patron of the theater and took off work to show his support for Eckern. “This man has devoted 25 years of his life to theater in Sacramento.”
Something struck me as a bit – shall we say – untheaterish about this crowd. And guess, what. At least some of them have a little extra something in common with Eckern which they didn’t disclose to the reporter.
Take Lance Christensen, for example. Well it turns out that Lance is an alumnus of Pepperdine and BYU and his linkedin “groups” includes the LDS Church. Oh, and that job he took time from? That would be Director of Legislation for the extremely homophobic California State Senator Tom McClintock.
And then there’s that sign in one picture at the Sacramento Bee saying “We love the Eckern Family”. Gosh, most folks never get a chance to know wife and kids of the Artistic Director at their local musical theater.
Hmmmm. Funny coincidence.
The Chicago Sun-Times indirectly confirms that the “pro-Eckern” rally was not theater-goers but just his friends from church:
“This is not fair – a lot of people wanted this passed, not just Mormons,” said Lynnette Black of Sacramento who rallied in support of Eckern in front of Music Circus last week. “We (church members) worked hard and within the law. It’s very hard to see this attitude toward Mormons.” [emphasis added]
Wouldn’t it be nice if they just told the truth about who they were and why they were there?