For Broadway’s Audra McDonald and others, same-sex marriage ruling is a ‘no-brainer’
Prominent members of the performing and visual arts professions have voiced their approval of Friday’s ruling by the Supreme Court legalizing same-sex marriage around the country.
Their reactions are perhaps not surprising for a community, including Broadway, that has long supported same-sex marriage and that counts many gay individuals both behind and in front of the curtain.
On Friday, the nation’s highest court ruled 5-4 that the 14th Amendment requires states to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples, and to recognize those unions performed in other states. Many states had already decided to legalize same-sex marriage, but Friday’s decision means that same-sex couples have the right to marry in all 50 states.
Among those who dissented from the majority were Justices John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. In his dissenting opinion, Roberts wrote that the ruling “not only overlooks our country’s entire history and tradition but actively repudiates it, preferring to live only in the heady days of the here and now.”
Audra McDonald, the six-time Tony Award-winning Broadway actress, and the former star of ABC’s “Private Practice,” has been a longtime supporter of marriage equality. Her Twitter handle is @AudraEqualityMc.
“It’s a historic day. It feels like it happened so quickly and yet so slowly,” said McDonald about Friday’s ruling in an interview. “For the Broadway community, it has always been a no-brainer. On Broadway, the LGBTQ community is so visible; we never understood the discrimination of the past.”
She added: “I actually have blood family members and those who I have made my family who are part of the gay community. To see them denied basic rights was heartbreaking. It was barbaric. So that’s when I got super vocal.”
Soprano Patricia Racette, who is married to her longtime partner, Beth, called it a “day we’ve been hoping for for some time.”
The opera singer publicly came out as a lesbian more than a decade ago. “Beth and I discussed it at length. It was an important event for us, telling the truth. It’s important to be honest about who I am. That being said, that’s not all I am. I happen to be other things than a lesbian!
She added: “What I would really wish for is that [marriage equality] stops being an issue at all.”
On Broadway, the lesbian-themed “Fun Home” took home this year’s Tony for new musical. “You can’t set out to be part of the zeitgeist,” said Mike Isaacson, a producer on the show and the artistic director and executive producer at the MUNY in Missouri.
But when the musical was running at New York’s Public Theater prior to Broadway, “we sensed something bigger was going on in the audience.”
“Fun Home,” based on the graphic memoir by Alison Bechdel, was adapted for the stage by Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori. The musical has been a sleeper hit on Broadway and will launch a national tour.
“It’s a good day,” said director Moises Kaufman, who is staging a new revival of the gay-themed play “Bent” at the Mark Taper Forum. “The first thing that strikes me is that when a LGBT youth comes out, their experience will be radically different than the ones who came before them. Now that it’s the law of the land, it becomes the discourse of the nation.”
Kaufman, who is also a playwright, was a contributor to the omnibus stage production “Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays” that has been performed around the country. “What was moving was how many people did [the play] and responded to the material. Culture changes minds,” he said.
Visual artist Mark Dutcher was running out the door to get married Friday to his longtime partner. The two had planned to marry -- they’d already applied for their marriage licenses -- but after the Supreme Court news, they rushed the ceremony.
“For our generation, people either stayed in the closet or it was a really scary thing. When I was 18 and came out, it was frightening,” he said.
Aaron Mcintosh, a Baltimore artist who is gay, said he wasn’t surprised by the news: “It seems like the most logical thing that could happen.... But it’s certainly exciting.”
He added, “it will now be something of an expectation from mainstream America that because you’re gay, you’d be on a more hetero-normative path toward marriage. And there’s less room at the table for more deviant sexuality, more non-conformist sexualities, and non-heteronormative sexuality and relationships.”
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