Producer Bruce Cohen and director Rob Reiner, both members of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, were among those at a rally this evening in West Hollywood.
Cohen said that the fact that Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision was so “thoughtful” and “comprehensive,” as he identified some 80 findings of fact and law.
“That was really our hope, that Judge Walker would give an opinion, that was so solid, and of such solid legal ground that it would be very hard to overturn,” he said.
At the rally, the foundation made a plea for donors, asking them to text $10 commitments. But the foundation also has engaged in an extensive campaign to publicize the case, and to frame it in the context of past struggles for civil rights. Behind the stage at the rally were two large hanging American flags, and by the event’s end “Born in the USA” blared from large speakers.
“You come to an event like this and this is how people understand how important it is and what a big deal it is,” Cohen said. “I think today, just seeing how the news was reported, and what a big story it is, is going to change people’s perceptions of the issue just in and of itself. But certainly the more our community and supporters take ownership of this, as it moves forward, the better. because we have a huge fight ahead of us as we go to the Court of Appeals and potentially to the Supreme Court.”
Cohen was involved in raising money for the No on 8 campaign, but the experience influenced his involvement in the lawsuit to overturn it.
“Certainly for me, after Prop 8, I decided if I was going to involved in political campaigns and issues in the future, if I am spending all this time raising money, I want a seat at the table as far as how the campaign is also being run. That was the brilliance of the Foundation from the beginning. It is a small group. It is not run by committee. Certainly coming from the film business, you want to have one writer who writes a brilliant script, who does the revisions himself, who is not replaced six times. Those are the great movies. So it is that same idea of a tight group of people who are deciding how a case should be run from our perspective. It doesn’t mean everyone has to agree. But that is not what we are doing. We are not running a public campaign. We are running a court case.”
The case has its roots in a chance encounter at the Polo Lounge in Beverly Hills in November 2008, when Rob Reiner and his wife Michele were having lunch with their two political consultants, Chad Griffin and Kristina Schake, lamenting the passage of Prop 8. An acquaintance stopped by, and later tipped them to call Olson, knowing that he was in support of same-sex marriage.
“When we first heard that Ted Olson was interested we got very excited, but then when he suggested David Boies we thought this a home run. They were brilliant in the courtroom. They took the other side apart and they presented an incredible case. And we are going to take this all the way to the Supreme Court and we are going to win.”
He said that they have recognized all along that one component of the strategy was that this was not just a legal issue but an educational one. “This is not happenstance that there are all these people here,” Reiner said.
“The fact that we got Ted Olson interested, that sends a tremendous message to people. And when he suggested David Boies, to me you can’t have better casting than that.”
Photo by Karen Ocamb: Rob Reiner with Ted Olson and David Boies.