I’m a Sondheim kind of guy, not only does he basically write for my voice (thanks, Steve!), but I’ve always had a connection to his work. I can safely say that Into the Woods is one of the reasons I decided to devote my life to musical theater, and I still can’t make it through “Move On” from Sunday in the Park with George without crying.
One of my favorite unsung Sondheim musicals is Passion, which recently had a revival at Classic Stage Company starring Judy Kuhn, Melissa Errico, and Ryan Silverman. It remains one of the beautiful scores I know (and Giorgio is still a perfect/dream role for me if anyone feels like mounting another production any time soon, but I digress…), and the most enduring anthem from the show is undoubtedly Fosca’s imploring, tragic ballad “Loving You.” I stumbled upon (and posted on Facebook) this beautiful version recently.
This song has stayed with me since I saw the show a few weeks ago not only because of Ms. Kuhn’s chilling performance, but because its heartbreaking first line brings my thoughts to the current Supreme court arguments: "Loving you is not a choice / It's who I am."
Too much ink and, unfortunately, blood has been spilled over the question of whether whom we love or are sexually attracted to is a choice. Science has much to say, but the results seem to boil down to a mixture of predetermined genetic codes and a spectrum of sexual preference. Apparently not needless to say, I did not choose to be attracted to men any more than a straight man chooses to be attracted to women. Some people would disagree.
But this is really the crux of the question of marriage equality, right? I’m not a lawyer, but the way I understand the Equal Protection is that it is illegal to discriminate against someone for something they are born with, like race, or a disability. Furthermore it is even illegal to discriminate against people based on their religious beliefs, which are assuredly chosen. DOMA and Prop 8 do exactly that – discriminate against a particular class of citizens, homosexuals – denying a right that the Supreme Court has already deemed “a basic civil right of man” (Loving v. Virginia). If you believe homosexuality is morally wrong and something that you choose, then of course you support DOMA and Prop 8. If you believe, correctly, that it’s not, then there’s really no sound legal argument I can understand that would uphold them.
As Time Magazine proudly proclaimed last week, the fight for marriage equality “over” in that it is basically inevitable. Popular support is growing, specifically among young people who will very soon be of voting age. In 5 years, it’ll be a done deal. In 50 it will seem quaint that we ever had such a bigoted battle.
I’m certainly not suggesting that the answer is for gays to behave like Fosca (though I’ve certainly met a few in my day who couldn’t take no for an answer), but her words ring true especially in light of the recent Supreme Court hearings. In this fight, we can say that love “gives [us] purpose, gives [us] voice” – we are fighting for our love and our rights: “This is why [we] live.” Let's hope the Supreme Court agrees.