A new documentary takes a look at Proposition 8 when it was passed in California in November 2008, making same-sex marriage illegal. In response, two same-sex couples, Kristin Perry and Sandra Stier, along with Paul Katami and Jeffrey Zarrillo filed a lawsuit, which became known as Perry v. Schwarzenegger. The judge ruled that Proposition 8 was unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment. But the proponents of Proposition 8 were not happy, so they appealed the case. The case ended up in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and finally, the U.S. Supreme Court (where the case became known as Hollingsworth V. Perry).
During this five year period, filmmakers Ben Cotner and Ryan White followed the case with their cameras and created a documentary from the behind the scenes footage.
Cotner and White approached the plaintiffs’ lawyers, Ted Olson and David Boies. Olson, who successfully won the Bush V. Gore case in 2000, securing President Bush’s presidency, is a famous conservative lawyer. His unlikely pairing with David Boies, who represented Gore in that 2000 case, raised eyebrows in the case against Proposition 8, but more importantly raised awareness around the legal battle towards same-sex marriages.
“When we started filming this, we had no idea how important the case would become and how it would really change the narrative, not just of the legal battle, but also the way that people talked about gay marriage. Having a very famous conservative lawyer and a very famous liberal lawyer working together really took the partisanship out of the issue” said Cotner.
“We had no idea that this case would go to trial, much less that it would go to the Supreme Court, much less that it would take us five years,” said White. “I think, recognized that if it did snowball, this could be a very important video record for the American people.”
“The Case Against 8,” debuts June 23 on HBO.