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The New Black List?

November 13, 2008

(Updated 2:30 p.m.)

The passage of Prop 8 in California is bringing out some scary stuff in the entertainment industry.  From today’s NY Times:

The artistic director of the California Musical Theater, a major nonprofit producing company …resigned on Wednesday in the face of growing outrage over his support for a ballot measure this month that outlawed same-sex marriage in California ….

Marc Shaiman, the Tony Award-winning composer (“Hairspray”), called Mr. Eckern last week and said that he would not let his work be performed in the theater. “I was uncomfortable with money made off my work being used to put discrimination in the Constitution,” Mr. Shaiman said. He added, however, that the entire episode left him “deeply troubled” because of the potential for backlash against gays who protested Mr. Eckern’s donation. 

“It will not help our cause because we will be branded exactly as what we were trying to fight,” said Mr. Shaiman, who is gay. “But I do believe there comes a time when you cannot sit back and accept what I think is the most dangerous form of bigotry.”

And the really chilling item, my emphasis:

“His donation was brought to light by online activists angry about the measure’s success at the polls.”

Can you say “witch hunt”?

This, of course, is just a symptom of the larger struggle in our nation over the definition of marriage, which activist groups and activist courts have just been inflaming.   A quick look at the news about various protests by gay rights activists outside Mormon churches, etc. shows that we’ve got a white hot culture war erupting here, something that threatens to match the decades of division caused (also courtesy of the courts) by Roe vs Wade.  

The President-elect needs to use his vaunted uniting power A.S.A.P., and broker a principled compromise here.  There’s got to be a way to solidify the rights of same-sex civil unions without overturning the democratically-proclaimed will of the people and forcing a redefinition of marriage that would criminalize deeply-held beliefs of the majority.  Will Obama step up to the plate and back up his words with actions? I guarantee you that 95%-plus of the people in those protests voted for him.  Here’s a prayer for some of that courage and wisdom I mentioned last week.

— Duke of Ray

12 Comments leave one →
  1. Timmy C. permalink
    November 13, 2008 8:40 pm

    One more thought here, which is not fully, fully formed:

    I’m pretty sure whatever good may have come from State ballot initiatives, in the long view they net-net don’t really help, and the whole idea of State Initiatives should be chucked.

    About half of all Ballot initiatives are challenged in court anyway, and about half of those challenged fail. So in the end this “direct democracy” seem to mostly empower the least Democratic arm of government, the courts.

    So they are a bad idea in my book…but they are even more so a bad idea when the following are present:

    — ESPECIALLY when they are tied to amending the State Constitution… A simple majority vote of 50% plus 1 vote can change the Constitution in ways that can in some States require the State Congress to have a 2/3rds or higher super-majority to change back. Any system where bad ideas can become constitutional easily, but fixing them later is hard: not so good.

    IF you are going to have them at all they should be like Illinois and all require a 3/5ths majority vote on the Initiative on any change the State Constitution. That would kill off the stupid and divisive ballots that have no hope of passing with such large majorities.


    — SUPER-ESPECIALLY when they amend a constitution about socially controversial issues that the members of the community have not yet come to a decision about. Deciding the “Big Unsettled Controversial Issues” (TM) by Ballot Initiatives seems like the absolute WORST way to do so, settling nothing most of the time.

    Rather than by more drawn out debate and deliberation, it’s all about blaring 30 second sensational spots, and big dollar donations funding signature drives and ads with highly sensational scary or confusing Ballot names.

    Ballot initiatives on such undecided “Big Controversial Issues” cut off the debate before the people themselves have really sorted things out….a really poor shortcut to really sussing things out in a legislature.

    And the circus or mob rule like qualities engendered by the whole process just add to the fun.

    and lastly:


    See all my points above and combine them for this last category.

    I thought your seeing a similarity between Prop 8 and Roe to be perceptive. I think the raw anger you are seeing in the Gay community must be similar to how the Pro-life community felt right after Roe, a
    deep hurt that to their minds an a great injustice just occurred. But even more than that: something got decided too quickly, somehow the debate was moved off the table too soon.

    (And I am not pro gay marriage, but am pro-civil unions, in fact I think the State should ONLY give out civil unions to all, and let the churches, mosques, synagogues, etc define Marriage as a Sacrament. The State has no business defining Sacraments and should get out of the Marriage biz all together)

    Only about 24 States in the US allow Ballot Initiatives.

    Those that do should pass a ballot initiative banning them.

  2. Tuttle permalink
    November 14, 2008 1:41 am

    Timmy C wrote:

    “…somehow the debate was moved off the table…”

    What got “moved off the table” was their ability to demand acceptance (temporarily at least) for gay marriage. That said, Timmy, I think we’ve just found something we agree on!!

    Credit my lovely wife for coming up with this and discussing it with me just tonight. (It was a kinda new idea for me.) I have no problem with gays inheriting (write a will for Pete’s sake!), visiting family in the hospital, getting health benefits, whatever. But, yes…I think the State should get out of the Marriage biz all together. Give civil unions to all, and let the churches, mosques, synagogues, etc define Marriage as a Sacrament, and CHOOSE who they will and will not marry.

    I think the State had (and maybe still has) a vested interest in promoting marriage- it’s proven to be the best and perhaps most foundational institution for creating a civilized and stable society.

    That said…I dunno…maybe I’m wimping out here. I’m sure DoR and The Count will let me know if I am. But this thing’s getting out of control. And the views of traditionalists are close to becoming thought crimes, hate speech and illegal. (Just 15 years ago, could you ever imagine THAT would happen in America? How far we have fallen…)

    Unfortunately, I don’t think Timmy’s and my solution will ever happen because at root, the issue is not about gay “marriage”. It’s about demanding (and forcing) acceptance of a certain set of lifestyle choices. At root, what’s happening here is a rebellion against nature and nature’s God. And the folks who are demanding gay “marriage” are really railing against reality. As long as there are people or groups (churches, mosques, etc) out there who can voice disapproval of their lifestyle, these people- not all of them, just the radicals- will be going berserk. Darkness hates light.

    Anyway… Unless someone can convince me I’m off the deep end, I’d fight for and agree with Timmy’s solution.

  3. Tuttle permalink
    November 14, 2008 1:52 am

    For another well-reasoned analysis of this issue, check out:

  4. Duke of Ray permalink
    November 14, 2008 1:15 pm

    Hey, Timmy,

    I think I agree with your solution, but I would disagree that settling these things by ballot measure is the worst way. That dishonor goes to courts deciding the issue by as little as the vote of one justice. In the matter at hand, the *second-worst* solution — a ballot measure to amend the constitution — only occurred because of the California Supreme Court’s radical overstepping of their constitutional role in overturning a measure that actually passed by a super-majority, if memory serves. Now, we’re left with this mess.

    So, if this were a trading game, I’d say: I’ll trade you ballot measures, if you give me judges who are removed if they legislate from the bench. In the real world, I don’t know how such a trade is made, though, y’know? It’s a conundrum. So, let’s hear from our President-elect, and let him do some of that uniting he’s promised. I’m being a bit sarcastic, but I’m also sincere here. This issue involves 3 states and has national ramifications, Obama should nip it in the bud.

  5. Tuttle permalink
    November 14, 2008 3:31 pm

    Actually, Duke, it involves way more than 3 states.

    As of today, 20-some states (27? 29? I can’t recall the number) have all passed measures defining marriage as one man, one woman- the traditionalist position. Gay marriage bans have passed everywhere they’ve been brought to a vote. The people ARE SPEAKING, and they’re saying they do not want homosexual marriage. The reason the people are feeling compelled to enact these bans goes to my earlier post- radical homosexuals are demanding we accept their lifestyle choice, and in so do doing, are using the courts to legally impose their will on the rest of us.

  6. Tuttle permalink
    November 15, 2008 2:18 pm

    Further evidence that the radicals will not settle or compromise on this issue:

  7. Timmy C. permalink
    November 15, 2008 2:51 pm

    Glad to see folks agree with my thoughts on how to get the State out of the Marriage business.

    It might be a long run (decades or more) but I bet this is where things end up. Other countries are already pretty much at this place now, so it can be done.

    A side benefit of this is it eliminates the charge that civil unions for gay couples but marriages for straight ones is an example of the law not showing “equal protection” for both. Since the State would ONLY do civil unions, that issue disappears. And it send the issue of defining a Sacrament to the Churches etc where it belongs.

    Duke Ray wrote:”a ballot measure to amend the constitution — only occurred because of the California Supreme Court’s radical overstepping of their constitutional role in overturning a measure that actually passed by a super-majority, if memory serves.”

    (Duke Ray: I’m not sure you meant that a State Supreme court stating that a law is unconstitutional is judicial overreach in and of itself, as that IS exactly one of their jobs. But I think what you meant is doing so when they don’t NEED to, when there are wiser ways to rule more narrowly is overreach. If so I agree.)

    No longer being a Californian, I’ve lost track of the Prop 8 history… but after googling a bit, didn’t it go roughly like this:

    * 1977 law passed defining marriage as one man and one woman.

    * 2000: Proposition-addicted California passes Prop 22 specifically banning gay marriage. That propisition did pass by a decent amount, but not a super-majority (which usually means 2/3rds or more)…

    * 2005: The CA Legislature pass a Gay Marriage bill actually, and then Schwarzenegger vetoed it saying it should be decided by the courts, or an initiative (dumb, dumb dumb move in my opinion – those are the two worst ways)…

    That law had passed the legislature by a decent majority 41-35 vote….

    * 2008: The CA Supreme Court overturns Prop 22, as unconstitutional…

    * 2008 Prop 8 passes….

    *Next: 2010 already has plans for ANOTHER proposition to overturn Prop 8, and folks are planning ANOTHER court challenge of Prop 8.

    All that leads me back to the same conclusion: the Ballot Initiative is a terrible way to deciede these things. As is a Court that rules more broadly where it need not.

    BOTH over-reaching judges (both liberal and converative ones) AND the pseudo-democratic pseudo-not Ballot initiative processes BOTH rush to change the Constitution rather than leave it to be more carefully deliberated over time by lawmakers. And both ill serve their State, or Nation.

    Scrap State Ballot Initiatives completely, or else make them require a 3/5ths majority to change the State constitution, that would have made the whole “Gay Marriage or Not” by Proposition just never had happened, and sent it to the legislature where it belongs.

    And I do think you will see over time Barack does unite forces on both sides of this issue at a national level, and think over his term you will see him encourage truly fair civil unions, but not Federal Gay marriage, and then also leave states to decide for themselves to decide locally.

    And I also do think if heat keeps building over State-based gay marriage issues on both sides he will address things even prior to his getting the real Big Job on Jan 20th.

    But if things start to settle or that the debate shows signs of settling into a heated but a civil debate, I think he’d be smart to not inject himself into the individual State level mix which could serve the opposite effect and just act as more salt on the wounds. Which no-one needs.

  8. Timmy C. permalink
    November 16, 2008 3:09 pm

    One last quote from me.

    I just dug up this from C.S. Lewis on the idea of there being in essence a State based “Civil Union” (though he didn’t use that term) and then a separate church ordained Christian marriage.

    His issue at the time was about Marriage law, but it was concerning not gay marriage law, but civil laws on divorce.

    From Mere Christianity:

    “How far should Christians, if they are voters or Members of Parliment, ought to try to force their views of marriage on the rest of the community by embodying them in the…laws?

    …My own view, is that the churches should frankly recognize that the majority … are not Christians and, therefore, cannot be expected to live Christian lives.

    There ought to be two distinct kinds of marriage: one governed by the state with rules enforced on all citizens, the other governed by the church with rules enforced by her on her own members.

    The distinction should be quite sharp, so that a man knows which couples are married in the Christian sense and which are not.”

  9. Toayminator permalink
    November 24, 2008 1:26 am

    I agree with Tim’s C.S. Lewis quotes and his other thoughts re: marriage and the state and the church

    For a look at where this is heading for us in the US of A, check out:

  10. Timmy C. permalink
    December 19, 2008 10:37 pm

    Hi Duke Ray:

    I was just reading some of the furor on both the left and the right over Barack’s choosing a vocal Prop 8 supporter in Pastor Warren to open a prayer for his inauguration.

    Even though he also includes as a bookend a Christian Pastor who supports gay marriage, some in the gay rights movement, still hurting from Prop 8, feel strongly slapped down by that choice. Their hurt response and anger towards Barack is pretty raw right now.

    And reading about those from the conservative side, strongly criticizing Rick Warren for accepting the invite, and attending and daring to pray for our soon to be President…(…accusing Warren of not being a Christian and worse due to his choosing to attend. The anger is pretty raw on that side too.

    Barack himself has said the pick of Warren was deliberate, and “that it is important for America to come together, even though we may have disagreements…where we can disagree without being disagreeable and then focus on those things that we hold in common as Americans.”

    It remains to be seen how the Warren involvement plays out. It may have been supremely politically stupid for Barack to do. A political unforced error.

    Or perhaps this is some of the leadership and courage you were hoping to see from the President-elect in this original post a few weeks back. We’ll see.

    Merry Christmas, and Peace,

    Timmy C.

  11. Duke of Ray permalink
    December 22, 2008 11:56 am

    Hey, Timmy,

    Well, it certainly seems to me like this choice is consistent with Obama’s victory speech. And, clearly, I disagree with the critics on both sides that you cite.

    On the other hand, I hope that you are not equivocating the general level of anger between the two groups. The expressions of rage by LGBT activist groups post-Prop 8 have truly been at a fanatical level, with totalitarian rhetoric(“unless Rev. Warren agrees with everything we want, we won’t believe he doesn’t hate us”), and an increasingly McCarthy-ite tactics ( When I voted in the primaries for Jesse Jackson as a college kid, I never worried that somebody on the evangelical right would get me kicked out of church; I KNOW that there are “progressives” today that would try to bully me and ruin my livelihood over a vote. Big real-world difference.

    To change subjects: As this will likely be my last chance to post anything here before the New Year, please allow me to wish you and yours (and all SMD readers), a very, very

    Merry Christmas,

    Duke of Ray

  12. Timmy C. permalink
    January 14, 2009 3:10 pm

    The jury is definitely still out, but this looks to me to be at least a hopeful sign Obama’s attempt to use the inauguration to help bring waring sides of the gay marriage issue together:

    Today, Warren issued a statement praising Obama for selecting Robinson, saying the president-elect “has again demonstrated his genuine commitment to bringing all Americans of goodwill together in search of common ground. I applaud his desire to be the president of every citizen.”

    It will be fascinating to watch the actual inaugural week to see this play out.

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