Posted on 23 June 2014.
By Dino Thompson-Sarmiento
The riveting HBO documentary “The Case Against 8″ takes an in-depth look at the historic federal lawsuit filed in an effort to overturn Prop 8, California’s discriminatory ban on same-sex marriage. Shooting over five years, with exclusive behind-the-scenes footage of the powerhouse legal team of David Boies and Ted Olson and the four plaintiffs in the suit, directors and producers Ben Cotner and Ryan White have created a powerful emotional account of the journey that took the fight for marriage equality all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“The Case Against Prop 8″ won the 2014 Sundance Film Festival Directing Award in the U.S. Documentary category and the SXSW Audience Award in the Festival Favorites category.
FENUXE Magazine chats with Ryan White, Atlanta native and “The Case Against 8″ film director and producer.
How do you expect or desire to impact society with this documentary?
Our goal in making the film isn’t to impact society or change people’s minds — our goal was to make a character film about the journey that these four incredible plaintiffs took part in for five years, and hopefully by the end of the film our audience feels like they went on that journey too. If we’ve done that, then we’ve done our job well. And our audience can decide in the end when they watch the two couples get married if they feel like it’s a right that they deserve.
In your opinion what are the top two reasons that folks refuse to support same sex marriage (SSM) even when they have LGBT family and friends?
I think there are many reasons people don’t support same-sex marriage, and what’s important is to keep those conversations going. Don’t close people off, because as David Blankenhorn exhibits in our film, there’s a lot of power in someone changing their mind. I have seen a lot of my own friends and family change their mind on the issue over the last few years, and I think we’re at an incredible tipping point in the country as we watch public opinion polls continue to move.
Does the issue of raising children within LGBT families strengthen or weaken arguments for SSM?
I think it strengthens the argument. Kris and Sandy are wonderful mothers of four great boys. All they want is for their family to be treated equally under the law. As Justice Kennedy pointed out in the oral arguments, someone has to speak up for these children with LGBT parents, because often their voices are lost in the politics surrounding the issue.
What can individuals do to help the movement of equality?
I wasn’t particularly active in the No on 8 campaign, probably because no one really thought that it would pass and I took that for granted. Following the lawsuit the past 5 years has given me a whole new perspective on activism, and the biggest way that manifests I think is by telling our stories. Kris and Sandy and Paul and Jeff lived openly and honestly about who they are — and they were willing to do it in a very brave and public way — and I think that humanity holds a lot of power in winning people over on marriage equality.
Prop 8 is California-centric, how exactly will it help or hinder other states decisions?
Some version of Prop 8 still exists for 31 states around the country. Each of those states currently has a lawsuit waging challenging the ban. So, while Prop 8 was California-specific, the arguments that were made in court — that this violates the 14th amendment and the human dignity of LGBT people — are the same principles that LGBT people nationwide are experiencing and deserve to be heard.
Can you describe why SSM is not the same as domestic partnership and why the more than 1,138 federal rights to civil marriage are so important to same sex couples?
I think the word marriage is a lot more than a word. Benefits aside, when LGBT kids grow up feeling different because they and their relationships are classified in a different way by their government, they can’t help but feeling the weight of that discrimination.
Tune in to HBO tonight (June 23 at 9 p.m.) and watch this informative documentary. For a sneak peek take a look at the trailer below: