Thanks to the three hour time change between the East and West Coast, the producers of I am Harvey Milk, an oratorio concert honoring the slain gay rights politician were able to update the film segments to include the latest news from the Supreme Court of the United States. The audience attending the concert that featured the 300-member San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, an orchestra, and Broadway soloists, roared with glee.
We witnessed this bit of civil rights history because our friend, Andrew Lippa, had been commissioned by the SFGMC to compose the music and lyrics of the oratorio, and star as Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man elected to public office in the United States. Just over a year after his election as city supervisor, he and then Mayor George Moscone were assassinated; the chorus held its first concert that night, joining thousands in a candlelight vigil.
Just five years ago, Andrew and his partner of 10 years, David Bloch, had flown from NY to San Francisco to be legally married when California began allowing same sex marriages on June 16, 2008. This ceremony preceded a religious service and celebration before family and friends a month later. Standing under a chuppah made from Andrew’s late father’s tallis, the men were married standing on their dock lakeside in Pennsylvania. I’ve been to many weddings; none as poignant as this.
Their legal marriage became void in November that year when Californians voted for Proposition 8, an amendment to the state constitution that restricted marriages to those between one man and one woman.
David, flying out for performances tonight and tomorrow (as we were headed back to NY), wrote, “I’m now a federally married man.”
It’s been quite an interesting few days following the antics of the SCOTUS. While celebrating this decision, I’m angered about its 5-4 decision that waters down the Voting Rights Act. I shudder to think what will happen to Roe vs. Wade. I think about Texas State Senator Wendy Davis’ 11- hour no bathroom break filibuster, championing women’s right to choose what they do with their own bodies.
Andrew, in an article for the Huffington Post, wrote, “…We are all Harvey Milk as long as we love fairness and honesty and value balance and compassion.”
Let’s hope we can remember this.