Normally, I don’t mix politics and music on this blog, but this fall Washington voters are being asked to “approve” or “reject” a referendum that would expand protections for same-sex and some opposite sex couples. If Referendum 71 is approved by Washington voters, Washington’s domestic partnership statute will remain intact. If the referendum is rejected, the rights available to the state’s 12,000 domestic partnerships will be drastically constricted.
Just before “Five for the Drive,” KING FM’s drive time show, an advertisement came on the air urging Washingtonian’s to reject Referendum 71.
For those who don’t know, KING FM is the area’s only classical music station. Recently, KING laid off three on air personalities as a way to monitor their expenses. A change in how ratings are calculated apparently hasn’t been kind to ratings or revenues. This isn’t the first time KING has taken advertisements of a political nature, but this is the first time that an advertisement has attacked a group of people who have been instrumental in the history of classical music – gay and lesbians.
No one should have to tell KING the important contribution gays and lesbians have made to classical music. Barber, Copland, Menotti, Bernstein, Tchaikovsky, Britten, Cage, Alsop, Pears, etc. etc. You get the idea. The list is long. By running ads supporting an effort to role back civil rights for gay and lesbian people they are debasing a key music constituency. The station may not be endorsing the advertiser’s opinion but they are giving tacit approval to the advertisement’s hateful and false message.
Maybe the next time one of the station’s personalities puts on a Marin Alsop recording they should think about what a reject Referendum 71 ad concludes about Marin Alsop as a person, her partner, and the family they have created together. Next time KING spins Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings they should take a moment to reflect on the fact that if Referendum 71 is rejected a relationship like the one Peter Pears and Benjamin Britten shared for decades would mean less under the law.
Is it too much to ask for Seattle’s only classical music station to think about the contributions of artists both living and dead before deciding to run any old advertisement?