There were elements of the Federal court case on Proposition 8 that seemed like they could only really happen in the movies – perhaps that’s because of the vital role that Hollywood progressives played in the trial.
Since the Prop 8 lawsuit was filed, the headlines have focused on the dramatic legal odd couple that brought forth the suit. Former rivals Ted Olson and David Boies, who argued against each other in the Supreme Court battle for the 2000 Presidency, were now teaming up make the legal case for the freedom to marry. The unlikely pairing added such a unique component to the story that it served as media catnip throughout the trial.
Perhaps the unlikely origin of the trial is even more interesting though.
Almost two years ago, Hollywood veteran Rob Reiner and several friends were sitting in the Beverly Hills Polo Club when they first discussed bringing forth a federal lawsuit against the constitutionality of Proposition 8. From that discussion came the suggestion to get Ted Olson involved. Although Olson’s views on many issues were antithetical to those of this progressive crew, he apparently had also demonstrated longstanding support of marriage equality. It was Olson who brought on his former opponent Boies.
The idea of a Federal challenge was met with emphatic resistance by gay, inc. Freedom to Marry, National Center for Lesbian Rights, Lambda Legal and the ACLU were all against bringing forth a case that could end up in front of an unsympathetic Supreme Court. Their concerns could definitely still be valid. If Vegas were taking bets, they would probably say that the case will almost certainly end up in the Supreme Court and it will more than likely be a 5-4 decision with Justice Anthony Kennedy representing the deciding vote.
With no support from the existing LGBT legal organizations, Reiner and longtime political strategist Chad Griffin created their own organization, the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), to take the case to court. They raised millions of dollars from Hollywood’s top names and suddenly the case was a reality.
Thus far, the case has read like a triumphant good vs. evil screenplay. The unlikely legal dream team absolutely destroyed the anti-gay villains with truth, logic and reason. The result has been a bulletproof legal decision that will hopefully ensure a happy ending to the movie.
To me, the most exciting component to this entire story is the fact that a majority of the heavy hitters who have put everything on the line to win the freedom to marry… are straight. I deeply admire the significant impact of straight allies on this movement. In the eventual movie depicting this journey, those contributions will be celebrated.
If you would like to thank Mr. Reiner, go see Flipped, which is his adorable new movie that just hit theaters this month.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons