Theatre Community Applauds New York's Same-Sex Marriage Law

By Kenneth Jones
29 Jun 2011

Douglas Carter Beane and Lewis Flinn
photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Tony Award-nominated playwright and librettist Douglas Carter Beane (Sister Act, The Little Dog Laughed, Lysistrata Jones), whose partner is composer Lewis Flinn (Lysistrata Jones), said, "Lewis and I were having a somewhat passionate conversation about Lysistrata Jones moving [to Broadway] and my inability to put the children to bed on time (yeah, I'm that kind of dad). I got an email from David Hyde Pierce, saying only 'Happy Marriage!' Lewis and I got quiet. He put the TV on, I texted boy playwright Paul Downs Colaizzo (who has been working very hard on manning the phones getting this passed). I texted, 'Is Gay Marriage happening soon?' He texted back, 'Ten minutes, tops.' I responded, 'How long a wait for bottoms?' I'm sorry, I had to. Then Lewis and I sat on the sofa and smiled and sat closer and closer. And it happened, and Lewis looked at me and I didn't feel like such a bad dad to our kids."

Richard Roland, a New York City-based director who directed the current production of The 39 Steps in Raleigh, NC, is married to Raymond Sage, Penn State University associate professor of voice for musical theatre. Roland said, "My partner and I were married in California during that brief window in 2008, and I was cautiously optimistic that New York would soon follow in practicing marriage equality. It took a little longer than expected, but I'm beyond thrilled that my home state now recognizes my partner and me for the first-class citizens we truly are. I anticipate there will be more battles and ugly rhetoric thrown around, and even a possible move to vote the law down, but I will be vocal and fight the good fight, which for me means showing opponents of marriage equality that their lives and livelihoods will not be adversely affected by two members of the same gender enjoying the same legal marriage benefits as they. I am so looking forward to my friends who have been waiting for this opportunity to get married. I was so moved on Friday night when the measure was passed just from the act itself — but even more so from the online proposals I was witnessing on Facebook! My partner and I were at our house in Pennsylvania this weekend and toasted with friends, two gay couples, to the act of love that New York has put forth."

Harvey Fierstein, the Tony Award-winning actor-playwright-librettist whose work has explored the gay experience (Torch Song Trilogy, La Cage aux Folles), said, "I had the live Senate feed on my computer while I worked through the evening. When the vote finally came up, I put [MSNBC cable commentator] Rachel Maddow on TV. I thought it would be like watching the vote with an eye on the next generation of activists. As soon as they voted affirmative on that hateful amendment legalizing religious bigotry against us, I knew we had the votes to pass marriage, so I was already in a happy frame of mind. But I watched the actual vote in Rachel Maddow's face. She kept her cool. She's a pro. But I could see the tears well up in her eyes. I saw her lips quiver ever so slightly. I heard the pitch of her voice heighten. And I experienced victory."

Jordan Roth and Richie Jackson
photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Jordan Roth, whose partner is producer Richie Jackson, is president of Jujamcyn Theaters. Roth said in an email, "May the arc bend now. May we wake tomorrow to a new day. [That's] a prayer of sorts that I posted late Thursday night, as the hours ticked down towards the Senate's final day in session. Now or never. We had never been this close, and I feared if the vote didn't come to the floor before the Senate's recess, we might never be again. Now. Now.

"Friday. Rumors and hopes started building through the evening, finding me and Richie on our bed monitoring laptops, iPads, phones and television for every word, every possibility. As the ironic melodies of the Senate's hold music played from our computers waiting to bring us the live feed from the Senate floor, we read an ever-accelerating stream of tweets and posts from journalists, activists and organizations on the ground and friends, family and encouragers from around the world.

"I hadn't fully understood this new-found power we share from Twitter and Facebook until just then. We were community. Feeding each other with information and insight and hope. Connected virtually but more a reality than ever before.

"The Senate resumed. The speeches. The heroes. A vote of conscience. 32!! A man can be wiser today than he was yesterday. 33!! YES!! YES!! YES!!

"And just like that, everything changed.

"Richie and I held each other's hands. Cried. Laughed. Kissed. We were different. The world was different. Now.

"We felt a pull toward Sheridan Square. To Stonewall, where we had seen the crowds gathering thanks once again to our community of technology. We ran into neighbors in the elevator and hugged, all knowing we were going to the same place. We all felt the pull. As did hundreds of others. So many old friends, but really we were all friends there. Hugging and saying 'Congratulations!' As if we were all getting married right then. And in a way, we were.

"Richie proposed to me six years ago, but somehow it didn't make sense to me to say we were engaged. Until now."

(Playbill magazine editor Blake Ross and staff writer Adam Hetrick contributed to this piece. Follow managing editor Kenneth Jones on Twitter @PlaybillKenneth.)