The legal struggle for equal rights that began with the battle to overturn Prop 8, as documented in 'The Case Against 8', has finally ended.
On 26 June, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled to overturn 14 state-level bans on gay marriage, effectively legalising it throughout the country. The legal ruling was particularly poignant for two couples, Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo, and Sandy Stier and Kris Perry. Both couples were plaintiffs in American Foundation for Equal Rights’ 2010 lawsuit against the state of California over the passage of Proposition 8, which outlawed gay marriage.
Their roles in the legal fight as well as their personal stories were the subject of our doc ‘The Case Against 8’. Though the Prop 8 ban was overturned as a result of the lawsuit, until last week, gay marriage remained illegal in 14 states across the US. Friday’s ruling was a final vindication of the couples’ work, as well as that of countless other activists throughout history.
Paul Katami said in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter that “This is a monumental step towards eliminating discrimination based on bias that has been used to [divide] the country” and that the ruling is part of a wider shift in public opinion to support gay marriage. He stressed that the equal rights struggle was not only a legal matter, but a battle of “hearts and mind”, in which activists embarked on what amounted to a public education campaign.
‘The Case Against 8’, Katami noted, was part of such a campaign, as it introduced a wider audience to the issues and the personal stories depicted spoke directly to them.
Both couples cautioned against declaring an outright victory for equal rights as other inequalities remain protected in law. Sandy Stier cited adoption rights, foster care rights and workplace rights as battles still to be fought. And Jeff Zarillo pointed out that “29 states, which is a majority in the United States, you can be married on Saturday and fired on Monday because you got married.” So this week, emboldened by the SCOTUS ruling, activists are “back to work”.