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.
That must have been such an emotionally charged moment to witness. The opportunity to be apart of the history and relive the moments through the music. For me, reading the SCOTUS ruling was a validation of what I have felt so long. I had several patients over the years and had an opportunity to to witness one couple have their union blessed. In 1995. a priest blessed the union of my patients who had AIDS. He was stripped of his duties.I felt I was part of history then. Here is a link to the Baltimore Sun article: http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1995-06-10/news/1995161005_1_priest-bishop-easton. We have come a long way. I would never have the opportunity to do it again until NY allowed the marriage of same-sex partners. It was a beautiful event.
Wendy Davis is my new hero. I wish I could have been there to witness another great moment in history. A woman who stood up and was finally heard. She had recounted being told by a fellow legislator that he had “difficulty hearing a woman.”
Thanks for the post.
Thanks. It was wonderful. Universal and personal.
On Thu, Jun 27, 2013 at 8:24 PM, cyclingrandma
Nice post. I was very happy with yesterday’s decisions. Living in California, it was so disheartening when people’s legal rights were taken away. Nice to see some justice restored here. It was a crazy day here!
Yes, I know! Not typical that I come for a day– my husband could work out of the SF office. Lydia planning to move there in a month so will be back for longer visits.
On Thu, Jun 27, 2013 at 9:43 PM, cyclingrandma
I agree with all your comments regarding SCOTUS. But I’m they decided right on the gay rights issue. As for their decision on the voting issue – it’s a step backwards for those civil rights. What are they thinking?
The problem is that it’s a divided court– which is good on some issues, not on others.
Such exciting times we are in right now. Just a bit worried about Roe v. Wade. I wish people would remove their heads from their hind ends, take a look back at history, and realize that abortions have been happening since it was first figured out how to cause one, and whether their legal or not, they will happen. And more than that, my right to decide what to do with my body is just that; my right to choose what to do. I have borne (and gave up) a child that was conceived in rape, and I have also aborted an unwanted pregnancy, so I’ve lived both sides of the issue. I have also suffered a miscarriage and now have a very much wanted and loved child.
You are so exactly right! We women make hard and painful decisions all the time, and having our legislators try and take that right, that human right, away from us is so horrible and antiquated. A vestige of patriarchal thinking that belongs in the past. My cousin had to abort after 20 weeks when a genetic counselor told her that her child would suffer and die within weeks of being born. Why must some elected official with a religious agenda come between a woman and her doctor?
Forget Gov, Wendy Davis for President!! Maybe after Hillary?
Powerful comment, thank you. Even with your story and countless others, it seems very difficult to convince the opposition.
On Fri, Jun 28, 2013 at 9:54 AM, cyclingrandma
Good post, Lisa, on a difficult topic for many people. 🙂
On Sat, Jun 29, 2013 at 1:25 AM, cyclingrandma
Wow! Such a meaningful and moving evening… and week. Great post!
On Fri, Jul 5, 2013 at 9:20 PM, cyclingrandma
What a week! Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and the links. I love the quote you shared from the Huffington Post, by Andrew Lippa; “We are all Harvey Milk…” It stirs the same emotions I feel when I read the famous:
“First they came for the Communists but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists but I was not one of them, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews but I was not Jewish so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.”
Thankfully, we have people like Mr. Lippa and Senator Davis to speak for all of us. Stomp on the rights and dignity of one, and you stomp on the rights and dignity of all.
Thanks again, Lisa, for writing this incredible, thought provoking, and informative piece.
Thank you Patti, and thanks for the Tangerine Tango plug on Facebook!
On Sat, Jul 6, 2013 at 10:31 AM, cyclingrandma
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