In the deadpan tone inherited from his father, Rob Reiner calls himself a member of the “gay adjacent community” — a riff, but as he and others showed at the Human Rights Campaign dinner on March 23, there’s a lot of value in location, location, location.
On the minds of just about everyone was Tuesday’s Supreme Court hearing on the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8. It was in November of 2008, after Prop. 8 passed, that Reiner, his wife Michele and communications strategists Chad Griffin and Kristina Schake were at the Beverly Hills Hotel when a chance meeting with one of the Reiners’ acquaintances led them to Ted Olson and, as it turned out, the filing of a federal case challenging the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. The case has been financed by a hefty dose of Hollywood money, including an initial $1.5 million each from David Geffen (who is gay) and Steve Bing (another gay adjacent).
“Everything is moving in the right direction,” Reiner told the audience at downtown Los Angeles’ J.W. Marriott. “This is inevitable.” Confident of a favorable opinion, Reiner, who will be in D.C. this week, also noted the swing in public opinion to what he calls “the last piece of the civil rights puzzle.” He added, “We have nationalized this issue to the point where we are at 58%” in a recent ABC News poll.
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Griffin, who is now the president of HRC, devoted his remarks to L.A.’s role in the LGBT civil rights movement, including a 1967 bar raid on Silverlake’s Black Cat Tavern that was followed by a protest, predating Stonewall. Two men arrested and convicted for kissing in the raid appealed all the way to the Supreme Court, which did not take their case. With what is before the high court now, Griffin noted, “now, finally, a greater victory is in sight.”
Historical firsts didn’t escape noticed. Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.) noted how he is the state’s first openly gay congressman, and Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire noted how her state was among the first to pass marriage equality at the ballot box, along with marijuana legalization. She noted that Washington “was the only state where you can get high and get married on the same day.”
Among the honorees was Disney/ABC, which earned a perfect score on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index but also was cited for a line of shows featuring LGBT characters, reaching back to Billy Crystal on “Soap” in the 1970s to Chaz Bono on “Dancing with the Stars” last year. Disney’s Anne Sweeney talked up an upcoming ABC Family series “The Fosters, about a lesbian mom raising foster kids. Primetime’s ever-present number of LGBT storylines, she said, “reflect the real lives of our audience.”
That will be the first of its kind for a network that still runs Pat Robertson‘s “700 Club,” required by contractual obligation. He, too, will be gay adjacent, whether he likes it or not.