Andrew Sullivan | Chad Griffin | Film and TV | News | Proposition 8 | Provincetown

Andrew Sullivan Faces Off With Prop 8 Plaintiffs, 'Case Against 8' Filmmakers: VIDEO


The HBO documentary The Case Against 8, which chronicles the legal challenge to California’s Proposition 8, debuted on television earlier this week and also made an appearance last weekend at the Provincetown International Film Festival. Blogger and activist Andrew Sullivan sat down with two of the Prop. 8 plaintiffs, Kristin Perry and Sandra Stier, along with filmmakers Ryan White and Ben Cotner (our Jacob Combs interviewed them here) for a panel discussing the film. Sullivan challenged the panel, taking issue with what he saw as “propaganda.”

Particularly, Sullivan was concerned with how the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) along with its co-founder, Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin, were portrayed, calling the film “a PR campaign for AFER, for Chad Griffin” and “a PR campaign for this case and against anyone else’s.”

Out Magazine reports:

From the first moments of the discussion, the room was thick with tension. It’s easy to understand the anxiety given Sullivan’s first-out-of-the-gate lambasting of Jo Becker, the journalist also embedded in the legal proceedings, who wrote the book Forcing the Spring. Sullivan (and many other journalists with an historical eye for the fight for marriage equality) excoriated Becker, AFER, and now-HRC president Griffin for attempting to sideline the 30 years of equality struggles, calling Griffin a “Rosa Parks” figure, and essentially suggesting that the fight for marriage equality began and ended with AFER’s case. It was immediately apparent that Sullivan viewed this film in much the same manner that he viewed the Becker book...

What was described as a discussion with filmmakers ultimately ended up being quite one-sided. Sullivan said, “The unfairness is that the people who were involved in [United States v. Windsor, the case in which SCOTUS determined that section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional] that worked to achieve the real result, barely even exist in this movie,” said Sullivan, “that the entire other groups who’ve been planning and working on this for 25 years are depicted in thus movie as ornery obstacles to the vision of Chad Griffin.”

As the air grew rancorous, one of the plaintiffs from Hollingsworth v. Perry, Sandra Stier, commented, 

"One of the things that saddened me is within our movement there is huge disagreement over whose story is more valid, whose story should get more attention, who tried harder, who’s been a bigger contributor,” she continued while Sullivan shook his head in disagreement. “I would just like to say to all of you is that Sandy and I set out to make a contribution to the degree we were able to make one." 

Sullivan also took to his blog to discuss the film, noting that in his view, The Case Against 8 is,

“a movie not about a civil rights moment, he argues, but about “the values of show business and mass marketing.” And when you’re marketing something, you show no wrinkles or flaws. You carefully stage every single thing to advance the product.”

You can watch the full discussion between Sullivan and the Case Against 8 filmmakers and Prop 8 plaintiffs, AFTER THE JUMP…

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  1. It was just an really long infomercial for certain lawyers....They didn't do it for pro bono you know....

    Posted by: styler | Jun 27, 2014 11:12:37 AM

  2. Marketing and public relations ARE part of any civil rights struggle--those are just more recent terms to describe inherent realities in any social/political movement. Duh?

    What a disgusting, petty half-man Sullivan is. Isn't it time for his exit already?

    Posted by: Sulllied | Jun 27, 2014 11:17:29 AM

  3. Neither the movie nor the book actually discuss the most important legal aspect of Hollingsworth - that by granting cert, the Court sent it's most direct signal that Baker was no longer precedential. Hollingsworth was a federal challenge to a state ban, and it is the only case since 1972 that is closely analogous to Baker.

    Posted by: JDH | Jun 27, 2014 11:23:38 AM

  4. "... And when you’re marketing something, you show no wrinkles or flaws. You carefully stage every single thing to advance the product.”

    So, I'm curious....if one were making a bio pic about Sullivan, and his advocacy for marriage equality, would one also include scenes of him visiting bathhouses, and trolling for anonymous sex online?

    If he engaged in this activity AFTER his diagnosis, would you include that information as well? What would be the best way to frame the issue that he knowingly endangered the lives of his partners, if that is in fact how things happened?

    Would you include these flaws and "wrinkles", to give a fuller picture of the subject, the good with the bad, the base with the high, the altruistic with the pathologically selfish?

    Would you reduce Sullivan's life story to " not about a fight for equality, but about one unloved son's desperate plea for attention..."? Or could it be a bit of both.

    Posted by: Full Picture | Jun 27, 2014 11:25:22 AM

  5. I can well understand Sullivan's frustration but isn't what is happening what always happens? Doesn't make it right, just typical. In addition to get getting upset shouldn't he be writing his version of what happened? He's written good books in the past while blogging.

    Posted by: Mastik8 | Jun 27, 2014 11:26:22 AM

  6. Couldn't "the people who were involved in [United States v. Windsor]," who Sullivan claims were so slighted, or filmmakers inspired by their efforts, have made their own movie?

    What obligation did the makers of this film have to treat every person or every case in equal measure?

    I for one am fully aware of what a hero Edie Windsor, and those who represented her, were and are to us all. I also was very inspired and moved by "The Case Against 8" and the fact that the filmmakers followed the plaintiffs for a tough four-year journey. Sullivan, you're coming off here like a bully.

    Posted by: Jack Nelson | Jun 27, 2014 11:26:46 AM

  7. The makers of this film have an obligation not to lie, misrepresent, and skew to make their story more than it is. They've failed that test.

    Posted by: Bill | Jun 27, 2014 11:30:55 AM

  8. Sullivan is an egotistical neocon. I suppose he didn't get enough publicity when he was busy defending Brendan Eich, so he decided to spend his time attacking a couple that made considerable personal sacrifice to become the face of the marriage equality movement in the challenge to Prop 8.

    Posted by: Jay | Jun 27, 2014 11:31:35 AM

  9. Oh, good grief. Just what we need -- mutual firing squads.

    Victories belong to lots of people. Edie Windsor's case got to the Supremes before some other good cases, so her name goes down in history, and other names become, at best, footnotes. She's a hero in my heart, but so are many people unknown to anybody but the few of us who closely follow marriage-equality cases

    The Prop 8 case didn't bring marriage nationwide. But the presence of two very high profile lawyers got national press coverage and attention marriage equality would not have gotten otherwise. In a perfect world, Mary Bonauto would have been the first lawyer to argue and win marriage equality. But that didn't happen.

    Lots of people deserve lots of credit. Even those who sit on the bench cheering on their home-run hitting teammates deserve credit.

    What we don't need is backstabbing. And we also don't need Andrew Sullivan's grandstanding. For all he's done for the cause over the years, he's also done lots to get spotlights aimed his way.

    Posted by: K in VA | Jun 27, 2014 11:34:54 AM

  10. What a loser. Instead of whining, just make your own god damned movie or write your own book. It is getting tired.

    Posted by: simon | Jun 27, 2014 11:35:26 AM

  11. It takes more than 1 film to document the history of a movement. This is a film documenting the Prop 8 case, not the entire marriage equality movement.

    Do something constructive, Andrew, like getting involved in making a documentary about another piece of the marriage equality movement.

    Posted by: Mike | Jun 27, 2014 11:40:52 AM

  12. Well, Hollingsworth is virtually irrelevant to all of the recent wins. None of the courts cite that case, they all cite Windsor.

    Posted by: jeo | Jun 27, 2014 11:42:24 AM

  13. Sullivan is attention seeking troll. What pisses him off more than anything is that these people actually achieved something.
    Something more than a blog about self promotion.

    After his self righteous defense of Eich why does anyone listen to this self-aggrandizing gay equivalent of Ann Coulter.

    Posted by: Boris | Jun 27, 2014 11:45:25 AM

  14. Sullivan, while affable enough, is just a lightweight. Wherever he has opined on serious issues, he seems to be clueless. He was utterly wrong on just about every issue in the Iraq war. Wrong, wrong and more of Sullivan's "wrong". He was so pro-war that I had to wonder whether he was the recipient of some of Carl Rove's "mold national opinion" walking around money.

    I think Sullivan is a person who cannot fathom anything outside his own personal and immediate experience: in other words a genuine conservative. Lacking in depth and understanding, but oh so happy to opine on whatever happens to be the topic of the day. Sullivan's passion about the attribution for the success of the same-sex marriage movement shows how small-minded and peevish his approach to issues is, and always has been.

    All I can say, really is: Consider the source.

    Posted by: Dan Cobbb | Jun 27, 2014 11:53:44 AM

  15. Well as much as I hate Sullivan he had some points. Its amazing how both Jo Becker and these filmakers were tipped off at the beginning and took on the projects before a judgement. The problem with this interview is that it included the plantiffs even though its the panel is about the documentary itself and not the case.

    Posted by: Will | Jun 27, 2014 11:55:55 AM

  16. TO BILL:

    You write:
    "The makers of this film have an obligation not to lie, misrepresent, and skew to make their story more than it is. They've failed that test."

    Really? Is that "BILL'S" law? Sorry Bill, but you don't get to codify your personal beliefs into what other people are "obliged" to do. You sound like an egotistical only child... filmmakers are not obliged to do anything.

    Posted by: Dan Cobbb | Jun 27, 2014 11:56:26 AM

  17. Would Sullivan be so passionate about members of some other movement (maybe the gun control movement) not getting the recognition they deserve, or is this all about Sullivan's own perception that he didn't get the --in his mind-- credit he deserved?! Talk about being full of it!

    Posted by: Dan Cobbb | Jun 27, 2014 11:59:27 AM

  18. The time has come for Andrew Sullivan to hang out in his garage and work on old cars.

    Posted by: RomanHans | Jun 27, 2014 12:07:39 PM

  19. "It takes more than 1 film to document the history of a movement."

    That says it (thanks MIKE).

    Sullivan needs to be involved in the "other" documentation. Get to work boy

    Posted by: UFFDA | Jun 27, 2014 12:28:20 PM

  20. I will never understand how the world doesn't unanimously recognize Sullivan for the moronic whore that he is, no matter how consistently he proves this to be true.

    I'm not crazy about this movie, either, but not because it doesn't star me.

    Enough with this case that completely failed to do what it set out to do. Windsor changed everything. Prop 8 got California marriage equality back, but years after the state could have had it back with another ballot measure.

    The Prop 8 case was, largely, an exercise in egos which failed in its goal. So what? It still did more good than Sullivan has ever done in his entire sorry, hypocritical, idiotic, whorish life.

    Posted by: oncemorewithfeeling | Jun 27, 2014 12:43:54 PM

  21. Get a grip Sullivan. Face off with your own demons and simply rejoice in the queer surge forward. The advancement of equality is not propaganda it is progress . You should applaud the courage of everyone who contributes to making the world a better place not dragging the conversation into the muck.

    Posted by: Ed Decker | Jun 27, 2014 12:52:33 PM

  22. Andrew stop. This was a DOCUMENTARY about one case - not an entire movement come on. When will we stop attacking ourselves?

    Posted by: Scott | Jun 27, 2014 12:53:50 PM

  23. This would be the same Andrew Sullivan who just last year slandered the memory of Matthew Shepard, promoting a sham book that makes wild accusations with no evidence. That same book was pushed by anti-gay organizations all over the US - and Sullivan. He never once subjected the author to a grilling, instead allowing the author to respond to written softball questions on video. And later he admitted that he might have been too willing to accept and promote the disgusting allegations against Shepard because he is opposed to hate crimes laws and he associates Shepard with that cause.

    The guys is despicable.

    Posted by: KidJ/NYU | Jun 27, 2014 12:55:45 PM

  24. He's a textbook example of what happens when a grown man never finds his spine. All these years, and he's still trying to impress the Catholic father who was ashamed of him.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Jun 27, 2014 1:00:33 PM

  25. There are many in the left that are just as upset about this retelling of history as Sullivan, including Dan Savage.
    Yes, it was great to get Prop 8 overturned, but when it comes down to facts, the real history that day, the case that will change all of our lives in Windsor. Windsor is where precedent is going to be. Windsor is going to what history books write about. Edie Windsor and her lawyer are the ones who are going to get everyone in the US the right to marry.

    And yes, that is important, because Prop 8 wasnt were is started. DOMA was passed 12 years before Prop 8 was passed. 12 years. And that was based on what was going on in Hawaii even early than that.

    Again, getting rid of Prop 8 was great, but getting rid of DOMA is what REALLY mattered that day (overturning Prop 8 while supporting DOMA would have been a hollow victory).

    The point of this is to put things into perspective. The lawyers on the Prop 8 case are overselling themselves, while Roberta Kaplan is dignified

    Posted by: Jack | Jun 27, 2014 1:06:58 PM

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