Last night I went to the American Foundation for Equal Rights benefit concert. Full disclosure, I paid for my ticket. AMFR is the sole sponsor of the federal court challenge of California’s Proposition 8, known as Perry v. Schwarzenegger.
Elton John was awesome (more on that later), and it was kinda thrilling to see Theodore Olson and David Boies take the stage together. Olsen said their plan was for him get to the four Supreme Court Justices that voted his way and the five that voted Boies’ way re: Florida, and that way they’d have all nine. Laughs form the audience. Chairman Rob Reiner said the whole point was being non-partisan. Both John Podesta and the Cato Institute are involved with AFER.
Okay done with the speechifications and on to Elton John: Sir Elton, once he realized the difference between UK civil unions and state civil unions, got involved in the battle against Prop 8. He told the audience of 300 at the start of the 90 minute show that he
would always be there for you standing at the forefront to help you guys
and while he realized he had everything, he didn’t have the right to be married to his partner of 17 years. Midway through the set which included several new songs plus “Levon,” “Philadelphia Freedom,” “Candle in the Wind,” “I’m Still Standing,’ “crocodile Rock,” “Tiny Dancer,” “Rocket Man,” and Benny and the Jets,” plus some awesome jazz, boogey-woogey and barrelhouse piano improv, Sir Elton, who looked like he was having a ton of fun, got serious with a speech ending with the full force of righteous anger toward the churches, the people and politicians who deny equal marriage rights:
Fuck you! Fuck you!
Celebrity spotting was not the purpose of the evening, though Adam Lambert, Golden Globe winner/Glee star Jane Lynch and Bruce Vilanch–who our cat Mr Bruce is partially named for (see photo below)–were two rows in front of me.
The event was held at Ron Burkle’s estate in the benefit section of the vast grounds, with one tent for the concert and another for enormous and elegant buffet, with an open bar. The passed hors d’oeuvres included mini-burgers, brie and pear tarts, shrimp and wee pizzas, plus tables loaded with salads, green beans, vegan mousaka, braised short ribs on puff pastry and some amazing desserts including homemade s’mores.
But Elton, OMG! It was incredible to see him up close like that and for such a good cause.