Two politicians who have consistently voted against gay rights, Reps. John Shimkus (R-IL) and Jean Schmidt (R-OH), will be holding fundraisers at the Elton John/Billy Joel Face2Face concert in Washington DC's Nationals Park July 11, reports PartyBlog.
Maybe they don't care that Elton John is gay, united in a civil union with David Furnish, and a tireless fundraiser for HIV/AIDS. Shimkus held a fundraiser at an Elton John concert in 2005 and the Kentucky Democrat reported:
A spokesman for Shimkus, Steve Tomaszewski, said his boss's fund-raiser at the Elton John concert was neither an endorsement of the singer's politics nor a betrayal of Shimkus' stand on gay marriage. Shimkus won't attend himself, however, because of a scheduling conflict, Tomaszewski said.
In 2006 Schmidt and Shimkus voted to define marriage in the Constitution as a one man-one woman affair, and a year later they voted against a measure aimed at prohibiting job discrimination based on sexual orientation. Then in June 2008, they co-sponsored a bill to amend the Constitution to prevent same sex couples from marrying.
Despite campaigning for global gay rights, Elton John is very not supportive of civil marriage equality. Or maybe he just doesn't understand that civil unions do not allow couples in the U.S. over 1,300 rights granted to heterosexual married couples. In November 2008, Sir Elton told USA Today:
We're not married. Let's get that right. We have a civil partnership. What is wrong with Proposition 8 is that they went for marriage. Marriage is going to put a lot of people off, the word marriage...I don't want to be married. I'm very happy with a civil partnership. If gay people want to get married, or get together, they should have a civil partnership. The word "marriage," I think, puts a lot of people off. You get the same equal rights that we do when we have a civil partnership. Heterosexual people get married. We can have civil partnerships.
His quotes were used by Yes-on-8 fund raisers in the aftermath of the passage of ballot initiative that eliminated same-sex marriage in California. Who knows, Sir Elton's views on marriage might just be the ticket for Schmidt and Shimkus and their supporters. Shimkus will most likely not be attending Saturday's concert and Schmidt's rep did not respond to press inquiries.
Concert promoters are happy to sell blocks of tickets; politicians are happy to use concerts as a fundraiser, their constituents are thrilled to see a hot show, so it's a win/win situation for all. But in this case, the whole thing is nasty, self-serving and hypocritical for the Congresspeople and maybe for the artist.
Lisa Derrick is LaFiga on Firedoglake.com