The Case Against 8



The Showroom Cinema is currently running the Eye Opener programme. Carefully handpicked films are shown with the intention of opening eyes to things not often noted. This month eyes were opened to Proposition 8 in the film The Case Against 8. Directed by Ben Cotner and Ryan White, The Case Against 8, Sundance Film Festival winner, shows the fight against Prop 8 and the emotional turmoil for all involved.

There is often the assumption that if you are pro-gay rights you are a leftie and if you are anti-gay right rights you are a conservative. What if a right-wing person not only supported gay rights, but actively helped in the fight against Prop 8?

This is what happened in The Case Against 8. Ted Oslon, a successful conservative lawyer, joined forces with left-winger David Boies and represented California plaintiffs in the fight for their right to marry. Oslon’s coming out as a gay rights supporter outraged many American republicans, so much so that he was at one point deemed a traitor.

The American Foundation for Equal Rights carefully hand-picked two same-sex couples to be the face of the fight.


Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, mums to four sons, married in 2004. When Prop 8 was passed, they received a letter telling them that their marriage was now void. That’s right – it was no longer valid.

Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo from Burbank had dreams of getting married and starting a family, but when they discovered that Prop 8 had passed they decided that they wouldn’t even attempt to start a family without knowing that they could get married. They desired deeply to have a stable family.

The simplicity of Kris, Sandy, Paul and Jeff meant that almost anyone could project themselves onto the couples. They are so unidentifiable that you couldn’t make a stereotypical assumption on their sexuality and that is what makes The Case Against 8 such a moving account.

The courtrooms were off-limits to cameras during hearings, so climatic moments were read from the transcript by those involved. Those scenes were moving and exciting, and perhaps even better than if cameras had been allowed in the room.


After a five year battle Prop 8 was destroyed. It was wrong to remove the rights of humans that had already been given to them. Four people fought against a dehumanizing law and won spectacularly. In the process they set of a domino effect in motion in which all same-sex couples across the US could now fight for their rights.

Words: Naomi Stennett


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