A couple of nights ago I was dragged to a performance at the Davies Symphony Hall called “The Colors of Christmas.” (Front row seats were available at a discount, and that’s just too big a temptation for some to resist.) The show, in a nutshell, is an MOR R&B Xmas. Peabo Bryson, Jon Secada, Stephanie Mills and Melissa Manchester. Plus a full gospel choir and members of the SF Symphony. Not my thing. Especially when Peabo Bryson spent half his stage time off stage, right in front of me, sweating off his makeup.
As I listened, I noticed that all the songs were Christmas songs, only a few of them secular. Most of them were sacred carols – Joy to the World, Silent Night, etc. And I thought, doesn’t it seem odd that they wouldn’t throw in a Hanukkah song, just to be inclusive? But my next thought was, to quote our current President, so what? Not everything has to be inclusive. It’s impossible to please everyone, or take into account every individual’s preferences. In private life, at least. The SF Symphony is, I believe, primarily a private organization. Like country clubs, the Boy Scouts, and the Congressional Black Caucus, they ought to be allowed to include or exclude whomever they like.
But once you step up to the public trough, all that freedom to exclude goes out the door. When public tax money funds you, or when you are a public accommodation, you have to be available on an equal basis to every citizen.
Regardless of whether the state should be involved in the marriage business, they are. Churches, as private organizations, can discriminate all they like. But the state should not be able to withhold access to the benefits of civil marriage without solid, rational reasons.
I didn’t have to buy a ticket to “The Colors of Christmas.” There are lots of other musical events I could attend. But we each have only one state to turn to when it comes to obtaining a marriage license.