Another Face of Marriage Equality
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On November 8, 2008, California’s Proposition 8 passed by 52% changing the state constitution to add a new section reading, “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California,” thereby eliminating same-sex couples’ right to marry. Soon after in 2009 the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) was formed with the mission of “…protecting and advancing equal rights for every American,” and “…leading the fight for marriage equality and equality under the law.” After recruiting bipartisan attorneys Theodore B. Olson and David Boise of Bush v. Gore fame, AFER initiated a search for two couples that would officially become the plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed against the state of California in what came to be known as Perry v. Schwarzenegger, and later Hollingsworth v. Perry. In an interview, Boies commented that AFER needed these couples to be “people who were just like everybody else and who were obviously just like everybody else…” Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, a lesbian couple and parents to four boys, and Paul Katami and Jeff Zarillo, a gay male couple since 1998 living in Burbank, CA, became these two famous couples. On June 26, 2013 the Supreme Court made a final ruling against Prop. 8 thereby allowing same sex marriages to occur once again in California. On that same day, the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), ruling that the law that banned same sex marriage couples from federal marriage benefits was unconstitutional. However, during the 5 years it took to strike down Prop 8 and the many years prior involving millions of people from various communities who campaigned in support of LGBT marriage rights, many organizations had carefully chosen the faces of marriage equality for the media and the voters. These “carefully chosen” faces were witnessed by many others who were not chosen to represent the gay marriage issue, folks who were not “just like everybody else,” folks who were watching the news from outside of the limelight, at home, washing their dishes.
PJ Raval is an award-winning queer filmmaker/media artist whose credits include BEFORE YOU KNOW IT, hailed by indieWIRE as “…a crucial new addition to the LGBT doc canon,” and the highly charged, NSFW CHRISTEENE video collection, praised by the Hollywood Reporter as”…something you desperately wish you could un-see .” Also an accomplished cinematographer, Raval’s work includes the Academy Award-nominated TROUBLE THE WATER as well as PRIMATE CINEMA: APES AS FAMILY the first film created for a chimpanzee audience.