A new documentary gives a face to the families affected by Prop 8

The Case Against 8 follows the landmark lawsuit pursued after Proposition 8 revoked same-sex marriage in California

Can we reach national marriage equality in the next five years? In a question and answer session following a screening of the documentary The Case Against 8, renowned lawyer David Boles asserted such a goal.

The right to marry, or not to marry, is a fundamental civil right. Although not listed specifically in the US Constitution, the Supreme Court and our country have long recognized an individual’s right to privacy in their personal relations. The right to marry stems from the right to privacy. I see state prohibitions against gay marriage as not only abhorrent to loving, productive members of our society who have done nothing wrong, but also as a dangerous step toward government intruding more into the privacy of all of our lives. This fantastic documentary, certainly the best legal documentary I have ever seen, delves into the undeniable emotion of the fight for gay marriage.

About The Case Against 8

Set to release on HBO in June 2014, The Case Against 8 takes a behind-the-scenes look of the high-profile case to overturn California’s ban on same-sex marriage. Shot over five years, the documentary follows the unlikely team that took the first federal marriage equality lawsuit to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Winners of Directing Award: U.S. Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival and an official selection of the SXSW Film Festival 2014, Ben Cotner and Ryan White shot the emotionally charged film over the span of five-years.

On Election Day 2008, Californians passed Proposition 8, a measure that repealed the right of same-sex couples to marry. The American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) organized the lawsuit that became Hollingsworth v. Perry (formerly Perry v. Brown and Perry v. Schwarzenegger). This documentary takes an engrossing look at the trial that overturned the controversial constitutional amendment. The case first made headlines with the shocking alliance of lead attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies, “apparent” political foes who developed a solid friendship after facing off on opposing sides in Bush v. Gore. The plaintiffs are two loving gay couples who find their families at the center of the same-sex marriage controversy.

The Hollywood Reporter writes that, “AFER settled on Kris Perry and Sand Stier, a lesbian couple from Berkeley with four sons; and Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo from Burbank, who see the domestic partnership route as acceptance of second-class citizenship. Much of the heart of the movie is in these families’ interactions – their unguarded displays of nerves or courage; their moments of tenderness or overwhelming emotion. The film makes it clear this was not some heroic crusade undertaken for personal glory, but a choice involving considerable sacrifice and stress. Five years of lurching between repeat victories and setbacks before the final breakthrough obviously demanded strength of character.”

Although Perry and Stier were actually married while gay marriage was legal in California, with all their friends and family in attendance, all of that changed when Prop 8 passed. They received a letter in the mail from the government, telling them they weren’t married anymore. The interviews of Kris Perry presented in the film are extremely poignant, as she comes to grips and articulates her thoughts and feelings, after having buried for so long the emotions associated with being treated as a second-class person most of her life.

Ted Olson puts it very well in the film when asked about his involvement in the lawsuit and his conservative ideology, indicating that there is no greater conservative value than the stability of marriage, and that should be encouraged in our society.

Cotner and White gain unparalleled access to the key players in the controversy and provide fly-on-the-wall coverage of a trial the public was never allowed to see. This extraordinary film offers unprecedented insight into our justice system and the often mysterious process of taking a case to the Supreme Court.