The historic marriage equality case that recently led to the fall of Proposition 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage, is set to air in 2014 as a documentary produced by HBO. The documentary, directed by Ben Cotner and Ryan White, provides an inside look into the legal teams and plaintiffs behind the historic case.
Couples Paul Katami and Jeffrey Zarillo as well as Kris Perry and Sandy Stier headed up the lawsuit as plaintiff determined to convince the Supreme Court to eliminate Proposition 8, in a case led by lawyers Ted Olson and David Boies, a conservative and liberal respectively. Cotner and White had exclusive access to the case, which was sponsored by the American Foundation For Equal Rights, and the two hope to show just how harmful Proposition 8 was to the two couples and their families, and how crucial the ultimate decision was.
Those involved with the film hope it will not only document the bravery of the four individuals who put themselves into the public eye to stand up for their rights, but will also help gain even more favor for marriage equality. Lawyer David Boies described the importance of the trial, explaining that it will help to release information about the case that those against marriage equality have been trying to censor.
The evidence at trial, including from the defendants’ own witnesses on cross-examination, proved that discriminating against LGBT couples seriously harmed them and their children, without any benefit to anyone. The opponents of marriage equality have successfully blocked the release of the videotapes of that testimony. But they cannot block this documentary. Everyone who sees this film will understand the pain our fellow citizens feel when they are deprived of the right to marry the person they love – and why that pain is so unnecessary.
Ted Olsen agreed with Boies, stating that the landmark case was the most important he had ever worked on.
“I’ve always said that the best evidence in this case is to hear our clients tell their stories. Paul, Jeff, Kris and Sandy have been brave enough to share their lives with the courts and now with the world. As Ben and Ryan tell this incredible story – that for me was the most important case I’ve ever worked on – people will inevitably be moved by getting to know these amazing individuals”
Everyone involved with the documentary is certainly involved for the right reasons. Their desire to show why the court decision was so crucial, and explain why the plaintiffs’ actions were not only brave, but personal, will hopefully come across in the documentary. The directors are also quite excited to produce the film with HBO, and are aware that the “distinguished platform” as Cotner calls it, will help them distribute the story to a large and engaged audience.
Given that the film is a documentary, Cotner, White, and HBO believe it will be completed as soon as the end of the year, so we could see the untitled project as soon as early 2014. It’s likely this is the first of even more films and media examining the monumental steps taken towards marriage equality this year. But HBO and the film’s directors are the first, and it looks like they’re steering the project in the right direction.
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