The Case Against 8 HBO Documentary Films 2015 DVD not rated
I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this movie or even finish it. It is about the legal challenge to “Proposition 8” in California, a proposition that prohibited same-sex marriages with the simple statement that marriage was defined as legal union between one man and one woman. [Well it was something along those lines].
I felt a vague sense of discomfort that it was going to be a militantly pro-gay movie. “Not that there’s anything WRONG with that”, as “Seinfeld” proclaimed. But…being definitely heterosexual, when I’m forced to uh….view…uh…public homoerotic “making out”, I grow tired quickly. Heck we all know conservative people that don’t even approve of HETERO sexual public intimacy, right?
I’m pleased to say it was not at all like that. Yes, there were two same-sex couples who agreed to be plaintiffs against the proposition. Their legal proposition was that it was unconstitutional by violating their right to equal treatment and to due process under the law…
Most bizarrely, they and a coalition supporting them were able to attract two extremely competent lawyers with experience arguing cases in the U.S. Supreme Court, who came from complete opposite ends of the political spectrum. Reality trumps fiction again: it’s David Bois and Ted Olson…yes…the lawyers for Gore and for Bush respectively, who argued Bush v Gore in the USSC regarding the 2000 election. I would love to rattle on as to why these two lawyers agreed to work the same case, the reaction from the gay and liberal communities, the legal meanderings of this case, the family situations of the plaintiff couples, the opposing legal team, and so on, but why spoil the film?
The case did have a meandering history: Federal District Court, 9th District Court of Appeals, over to the California Supreme Court, back to 9th Circuit Court and then on to the US Supreme Court, which bundled it together with a challenge to the Federal “Defense of Marriage Act”. In its decision on the two cases the USSC struck down the Defense of Marriage Act on the grounds pled here: due process and equal protection. It decided plaintiffs did not have jurisdiction in the appeal on Proposition 8, which left standing the lower court’s decision that it too was unconstitutional.
The US Supreme Court in the last twenty plus years has been a very conservative supreme court [though admittedly, it is the most conservative in defending the rights of the poor downtrodden corporation against individuals and has been somewhat more protective of individual rights against the state]. So it’s worth taking note of why this conservative court made what was a somewhat bold “liberal” decision. This movie explains how, and why. Very well done. A-.