Entertainment Figures Back Federal Gay Marriage Suit

Updated with changes

Rob Reiner, Bruce Cohen and Dustin Lance Black are among the board members of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, the org behind the federal suit challenging Proposition 8 that was recently filed by star attorneys David Boies and Ted Olson.

The effort is being led by Chad Griffin, who serves as the president of the Equal Rights foundation.

Also making up the board is Reiner’s wife, Michele, a producer and children’s advocate, and Kristina Schake, partners with Griffin in a political consultancy and communications firm with a number of industry clients. The board of the org was announced this morning, and there are plans to also release a list of donors to the effort.

Reiner contributed to the No on 8 campaign, and, as a longtime political activist, has championed the issue of pre-Kindergarten education in California. Cohen produced “Milk” along with Dan Jinks, and was chair of the L.A. finance committee for No on 8 and was on the National LGBT Steering Committee of Obama for America. Black won an Oscar for the “Milk” screenplay, and recently spoke at the Meet in the Middle rally in Fresno.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, challenges Proposition 8 as a violation of 14th amendment guarantees of due process and equal protection.

The lawsuit signals the desire among some activists within the entertainment community to pursue a different approach to the effort to legalize same-sex marriage, particularly in light of the passage of Proposition 8 and the failure to overturn it in the state Supreme Court. The announcement of the suit last week, however, brought criticism from groups like the ACLU and Lambda Legal, which fear that a defeat at the federal level could set a precedent that sets back the cause.

Meanwhile, a coalition of gay marriage advocates held a conference call to discuss the results of a recent poll that 47% in the state favor “allowing same-sex couples to be legally married,” while 48% are opposed. It also showed that there was a “small advantage” to putting the question before voters in 2012 rather than 2010.  Results from the survey also indicate that supporters of marriage for same‐sex couples will need “to make additional efforts to appeal to religious voters and voters within African American, Latino, and Asian communities.”

Several orgs, including Equality California and the Courage Campaign, have announced that they favor a 2010 initiative after polling their members.

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