Play reading benefits American Foundation for Equal Rights

George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Martin Sheen, Jane Lynch and Kevin Bacon were among those who staged a reenactment of some of the highlights of California’s case to overturn the ban on same-sex marriage via a reading of “8,” Dustin Lance Black’s play that incorporates actual testimony from the trial with personal recollections from the two couples seeking to wed.

The Saturday benefit, which raised about $2 mil at the Wilshire Ebell for the American Foundation for Equal Rights — the org of political and entertainment industry activists backing the case — was also streamed on YouTube, generating more than 210,000 views.

“The American people are going to see this, and they are going to have the same feelings in their hearts as we all do, and it is going to make a huge difference,” said Ted Olson, the lead attorney who is pursuing the case along with David Boies.

The crescendo of the play is in the trial’s closing arguments, when Sheen, as Olson, cannily uses the words of David Blankenhorn, one of the witnesses for Prop. 8 proponents who inadvertently ended up helping the plaintiffs. He admitted having said that the day that same-sex marriage is permitted, “we will be more American.”

“I wish I was that good,” Olson quipped after watching Sheen. “He can do it in a way that you can’t do it in court, but the fact is that it is the words that made the difference.”

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