Federal Prop 8 Trial Hub




Prop 8 Plaintiffs Renew Marriage Vows One Year Later: VIDEO

Prop 8 wed eat cake

Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo married at Los Angeles City Hall just hours after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals lifted the stay on its ruling on Prop 8 last year. Now, exactly one year later, the couple have renewed their vows - this time in an elaborate ceremony in front of friends and family.

The big event was held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on June 28 and was, appropriately, officiated by Prop 8 attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies.

Frontiers reports on the day:

The ceremony itself was simple, emotional and shared—as they were escorted to the center of the “stage” by their mothers and nieces and nephews put in appearances to present the rings. As if to illustrate the point he was making, Olson read off cards he was holding to note that marriage is not about perfection and not only about marrying the right partner but being the right partner.

Guests included Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, Lance Bass, Darren Criss, Rob Reiner and retired District Court Judge Vaughn Walker.

Watch an ABC7 News segment on the ceremony, AFTER THE JUMP... 

Continue reading "Prop 8 Plaintiffs Renew Marriage Vows One Year Later: VIDEO" »


Vikings Investigation Into Chris Kluwe's Allegations Of Homophobia Nearing Close

6a00d8341c730253ef019b04170d2d970d-500wi

Earlier this year former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe alleged that his contract was not renewed with the team because of his public statements in support of same-sex marriage. The Vikings have stated that their decision to let Kluwe go was due entirely to his performance on the field, a statement that Kluwe claims is false. Kluwe previously stated that were an independent investigation not to corroborate his claims, he would likely sue the Vikings. SB Nation reports that said investigation is nearing completion and the findings are soon to be released.

As The Viking Age points out, journalist Mike Freeman recently tweeted, "I'm hearing Chris Kluwe report could be released very soon and report is favorable to Kluwe":

“Favorable to Kluwe” is vague enough that it could mean a lot of things, but we have to assume that any report generally favorable to Kluwe is going to be generally not-favorable to [Vikings special coordinator, Mike] Priefer. And since Priefer stands to lose more than anyone else if Kluwe’s allegations are found to have merit…well, let’s just say if there’s anyone out there who has reason to be tense, it’s Priefer.

Kluwe made a name for himself in the movement for marriage equality, coming to the defense of Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, a fellow advocate for gay marriage. Together Kluwe and Ayanbadejo filed an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in relation to Hollingsworth v. Perry, as a means to express their shared opposition to California’s Prop 8.


INTERVIEW: Directors Ben Cotner and Ryan White on Capturing the Human Heart of 'The Case Against 8'

Thecaseagainst804

BY JACOB COMBS

“The Case Against 8,” the new HBO documentary about the legal challenge to California’s marriage equality ban, buzzes with the kind of dramatic tension a seasoned screenwriter might employ.  But Ben Cotner and Ryan White’s remarkable film has something no Hollywood film on Proposition 8 could ever hope for: the verisimilitude of reality. 

Thecaseagainst805The lawsuit against Proposition 8 was filed in May 2009; the case’s final resolution came on June 28, 2013.  During the four years that the case tangled and twisted its way from a San Francisco courtroom to the U.S. Supreme Court—and during the intervening year until the film’s theatrical release on June 6 and its streaming release on HBO this coming Monday—White and Cotner made a film that reminds us just how important the Prop 8 case and its accompanying trial were to advancing the conversation about marriage equality to where it is now.

During my interview with Cotner and White earlier this week in New York, one day before they jetted off to San Francisco, where their film opens the Frameline Film Festival tonight, one thing became abundantly clear to me: this is the kind of story that a documentary filmmaker dreams about telling.  And just as importantly, the two directors’ five-year journey demonstrates that one of the most significant aspects of the Prop 8 case—one which it is almost difficult to recall now, after so many remarkable LGBT rights victories—was that absolutely nobody had a clue how the case would turn out. 

Thecaseagainst802Yes, the challenge was intricately planned by the unexpected legal dream-team of Ted Olson and David Boies.  But when White and Cotner began filming, there was no telling how the case would resolve, or the several unexpected detours it would take from district court to the Supreme Court.  At first, Cotner recalls, he and White were amazed that AFER had even agreed to their request to film the case’s early development.  “Every day,” he told me, “we would show up and expect to get kicked out.”

They weren’t kicked out, but they weren’t sure they would end up at the end of the project with a film.  “It was really several years of us being completely nauseated by the idea that we’d put all this work into it without really knowing whether it would have an ending,” Cotner told me.  Because of that, the two filmmakers—both gay Californians themselves—documented every meeting they could, no matter how seemingly insignificant, for a total of some 6,000 hours of footage.  

But once Judge Vaughn Walker chose to hold a trial, the filmmakers’ entire calculus changed.  “The trial,” Cotner told me, “was what was historic about this case.  Growing up in Indiana, I never imagined I would be in a federal court where people were talking this rationally and articulately about these issues and examining the science behind it.”  Or, as White put it simply, “Trials are cinematic.  It made our film cinematic.” 

Thecaseagainst801

After some legal wrangling, it was determined by the U.S. Supreme Court that cameras would not be allowed to record the Prop 8 trial in district court, meaning Cotner and White would have no footage from this most human part of the case to include in their documentary.  So they did something risky—“our Hail Mary,” White called it: they had the plaintiffs—Kris Perry, Sandy Stier, Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo—each re-enact the testimony that they gave in the courtroom in January of 2010, reading directly from the transcripts of their own words.  “We both thought it was going to be a bad idea,” White told me.  “And they were all amazing.  Listening to each of them reread—everyone was just sort of captivated by them.”  Those in-studio reenactments form the heart of “The Case Against 8,” both figuratively and literally, coming as they do at the exact middle of the film.

Thecaseagainst802Of course, when the plaintiffs first spoke those words in San Francisco, nobody knew they would succeed before the Supreme Court—or even if the case would make it that far.  “It really wasn't until the Supreme Court granted cert,” Cotner said, “that we could say, OK, we know this is a 3-act film and it has an ending.  Whether it's a good ending or a bad ending, we know we have a film." 

But what ending would it have?  There were three possibilities: a nationwide pro-equality ruling (the big win), a decision on standing that would lead to the return of marriage equality to California but nowhere else, and a devastating anti-equality ruling that would grieve LGBT hearts from coast to coast.  “Any of those three outcomes were OK to us as storytellers,” White told me, “because they’re all a good ending”—from a filmmaking perspective, at least.

Luckily for the plaintiffs—and all LGBT Californians—the high court’s decision did bring marriage equality back to the Golden State.  And with the help of the Ninth Circuit, marriage returned in a most unexpected way: just two days after the Supreme Court’s ruling, more than 20 days before anybody thought it would.

Thecaseagainst807“I was in my car,” White told me, recalling the day.  “I got a text from someone at AFER saying, don’t ask any questions, just drive to the airport right now and go to San Francisco.”  And so he did, slightly miffed, because he and Cotner had received similar missives and dropped everything only to have nothing happen.  “It’s not going to happen today,” White remembers thinking, but then came the call that the court’s stay had been lifted.  “It was like an action film,” White said—their driver flew through the city, hopping curves and racing for City Hall, where White’s camera equipment set off every alarm in the security line and a sharp-eyed guard, recognizing the history of the moment, pulled White aside and said, just go.

Meanwhile, Cotner was in Los Angeles with two of the plaintiffs, Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo, fighting their way through traffic to a county clerk’s office in Norwalk.  When they arrived, confusion reigned in the office, and they were asked to step aside and wait, since the office had not yet received notice of the court’s lifting of the stay.  “That, after four years and all of the work that Paul and Jeff had put into this, was such a sucker punch.”  Incredibly, California Attorney General Kamala Harris was reached on the phone and personally instructed the Norwalk office to issue the marriage license—a phone call that Cotner and White were lucky enough to film from both sides, and one that shines in their documentary. 

Thecaseagainst806And then it was time for the weddings.  “It was one of those moments,” Cotner says, “where as filmmakers it’s just so hard to hold the camera.  Because you’ve grown to love these people and you’ve got to film this.  This is the only moment that you really have to catch, but it’s the one time you want to put the camera down and really just be there and be a part of it.”

“It was one of the best days of our lives,” White told me.  He and Cotner had expected they would have a full 25 days before the stay was lifted to plan for the couples’ weddings—and the logistics of shooting them.  In the end, though, he says it was a blessing that things happened the way they did: “I don’t think it would be as amazing of an ending if it wasn’t so rushed and frantic and confusing and then celebratory." 

In a way, “The Case Against 8” is just like, well, the actual case against 8: a high-stakes, multi-year project with no guarantee of success at the outset.  But even knowing the eventual outcome of the legal challenge, it’s impossible not to be moved by the way Cotner and White’s film shows us the abounding humanity of the case’s plaintiffs and of the lawyers who told their story.

As our interview came to a close, White shared an anecdote from the film’s Tuesday premiere in Atlanta, where he’s from.  At the after party, White’s best friend, who had brought his very conservative mother to see the film, came up to the director and burst into tears.  “My mom grabbed my hand from the very first frame of your film,” he told White, “and never let go.  And right when the credits started rolling, she turned to me and said, ‘I’ve been wrong about this.’”  White was gracious and humble when we spoke: “That’s not me or Ben,” he said.  “That’s Kris and Sandy and Paul and Jeff.”

Actually, it’s all of them.  The human story was always the secret weapon of the legal challenge to Proposition 8, and it’s the secret weapon of “The Case Against 8” as well.

The HBO documentary “The Case Against 8” will debut this Monday, June 23rd.

Check out the trailer, below:


HBO Producing Documentary on Battle to Overturn Proposition 8

HBO is working on a documentary based on the battle to overturn Proposition 8 that presumably will focus on David Boies, Ted Olson, and the team that took the case to the Supreme Court, the NYT reports:

Olson-boiesHBO said that two directors, Ben Cotner and Ryan White, have for years had exclusive behind-the-scenes access to the legal team that argued the recent Supreme Court case over Proposition 8, a California ballot initiative that banned gay marriage in the state. The Supreme Court late last month declined to rule on the case, effectively ending the ban.

The still-untitled documentary will be completed by the end of the year and make its debut on HBO sometime next year. Michael Lombardo, HBO’s programming president, in a statement called the movie “the story of a modern-day American revolution” and said it was intended to be “the film of record on this landmark case.”

Adds Deadline:

Cotner is currently SVP of acquisitions at Open Road Films. White’s films include Pelada and Good Ol’ Freda, which will be released in September. The deal was negotiated with HBO on behalf of the filmmakers by Josh Braun of Submarine Entertainment and Victoria Cook of Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz.


Prop. 8 Plaintiffs Jeff Zarrillo And Paul Katami Reflect After 5 Days Of Marriage: VIDEO

Jeff Zarrillo and Paul Katami

One week after their historic victory over Prop 8, and just five days after finally saying "I do," Jeff Zarrillo and Paul Katami sat down with the Daily News to discuss married life in the aftermath of their four-plus-year long battle with the courts, as well as the celebration that took place afterward. 

"It was just such an amazing week because our lives changed in such a profound way, as well as thousands of others," said Zarrillo, "You've seen wedding after wedding on TV and in the newspaper; we saw a lot in person when we were in San Francisco this weekend. Just seeing how their lives are changing because of our lawsuit has been really profound and frankly, a little heavy to take in at times."

Zarrillo Katami WeddingJust two days after the Supreme Court released the ruling that ended Proposition 8, the two men were married at LA City Hall. That day also happened to be the anniversary date of the historic Stonewall riots. Zarrillo was quick to express his pride, stating that, "now we share our anniversary with those brave men and women who just said enough is enough and fought back." Katami expressed similar emotions, which, according to him, started manifesting immediately after the two were finally married.

"I felt taller, I felt lighter. I felt like I could breathe a little easier and I couldn't wait to call him husband...We fought for so long to be able to use that language that defines who we are privately and also associates us publicly...It makes a huge difference."

While the two are absolutely thrilled to finally be an officially married couple, their joy is slightly dampened by the fact that many LGBT couples across the country still don't enjoy their same rights. Two such people were a lesbian couple from Arizona, who drove to San Francisco to join in the celebration. Upon congratulating the two men, one of the women began to cry and explained that they would be returning home to a place where their rights are not recognized. Zarrillo described the experience.

"I'll never forget the look on her face when we let go of the hug and she was crying," Zarrillo said. "I started crying and it stuck with me ever since. I can't get that out of my head, nor should I."

While Katami and Zarrillo, who have opted to keep their names intact, do look forward to resuming their life together as a normal married couple, Katami has conceded that they would still like to be advocates for the cause. To him, they are still naturally suited for the job, "because the voice we lent to our case was a voice that is heard across the country."

Watch a video excerpt from the interview AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Prop. 8 Plaintiffs Jeff Zarrillo And Paul Katami Reflect After 5 Days Of Marriage: VIDEO" »


Same-Sex Divorce Coming to Canada for Foreign Couples

On the same day the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against DOMA and Prop8, paving the way for greater access to marriage for millions of gay Americans, Canada's parliament closer to granting divorces for those same people.

CanadaLast week Towleroad linked to a Maclean's article that stated the legislation could be indefinitely stalled, leaving many divorce-seeking non-Canadian same-sex couples who married in Canada stuck with their nuptials, no matter how badly they might want a divorce.

Reports the CBC:

Instead of following the normal process for a bill where it is debated and voted on at various stages and studied by MPs on a committee, C-32 [the divorce bill] was declared passed at all stages in the Commons and it moved on to the Senate where it was also dealt with quickly. It landed in the Senate Wednesday and was passed Friday.

The original issue erupted when an odd loophole was exposed by a foreign same-sex couple who's home jurisdictions didn't recognize their marriage, and thus they sought divorce where they were originally married. But, Canada had a requirement that to obtain a divorce, one had to live in Canada for an entire year. The loophole wasn't acknowledged until now most likely because such hetero couples would never have had to return to Canada to get a divorce—their home countries simply would have granted it.

So, all in all, it's a pretty good day for same-sex couples in the U.S. that want to get married, and for same-sex couples who want to get out of theirs.


Trending



Towleroad - Blogged