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Passions Still Fly Over Prop 8

Thursday marks 30 years since Harvey Milk and George Moscone were assassinated in San Francisco City Hall. One of the first images you see in the upcoming “Milk,” as well as the 1984 documentary “The Times of Harvey Milk,” is news footage of Diane Feinstein announcing their deaths, to the screams of those gathered to hear what had happened.

Feinstein, who was a supervisor at the time along with Milk and Dan White, the assailant, has talked little about the tragedy until only recently.

She tells Maureen Dowd, “It’s very painful for me. It took me seven years before I could sit in George Moscone’s chair. It took me a long time to talk about it. I was only recently able to talk about it.”

Dowd, too, finds the parallels between the movie and Proposition 8.

Feinstein tells her, “I think people are beginning to look at it differently, I know it’s happened for me. I started out not supporting it. The longer I’ve lived, the more I’ve seen the happiness of people, the stability that these commitments bring to a life. Many adopted children who would have ended up in foster care now have good solid homes and are brought up learning the difference between right and wrong. It’s a very positive thing.”

My latest column, on the film and Prop 8, didn’t have the space to include this comment from one of the producers, Bruce Cohen, who also worked on the No on 8 campaign — but it also underscores the ties between then and now.

He says, “The similarities between what happened 30 years ago and what has happened this time around are so stunning that as this whole story is unfolding, the movie keeps changing every time we see it. And fortunately, i didn’t watch it (after Prop 8 passed). I think if I had seen the movie two or three days after the election, I would have been so depressed. I wouldn’t even know how it would affect me. But the first time I saw it after the election was about a week later, and by that point, the protests were already going full speed, people were already out in the streets, and there is that scene in the film near the end where Cleve Jones asks Harvey ‘What do we do if we lose this thing?’ And Harvey says, I am a supervisor so I can’t tell you this, but fight the hell back. So to see now that part of history has repeated itself, and people are fighting back nationwide, it just makes it feel like the film is more timely now than ever.”

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times looks at how the threats of boycotts against some Hollywood donors to Yes on 8 has created uncertainty among some filmmakers who want to support civil rights and others who want to back free speech — with studios and other orgs caught in the middle.

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