Prop. 8 Court Case Re-Enactment – See the Historic Trial for Yourself

Despite the U.S. Supreme Court ruling to indefinitely block broadcast of the Proposition 8 trial, a team of filmmakers from L.A. have decided to take matters into their own hands and re-enact this historic trial based on the live blogs and transcripts that are coming out of the court.

From the John Ireland Productions press release:

Last Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling blocking indefinitely the broadcast of a video feed from the San Francisco Federal Court trial challenging California’s Proposition 8.  Within a few hours, a film production team in Los Angeles was readying a script from court transcripts, securing a courtroom set and casting actors in an effort to bring the trial to the people by way of re-enactment.

“We both jumped in and started calling all of our contacts… and never looked back,” says John Ireland, who is co-producing the “made for the web” series with actor and producer, John Ainsworth.  “John and I both agreed that time is short but the time is now.  We have collected a top-notch group of people to tell this story, so the world can see it.”  Both men have been in the documentary and entertainment business for years.

“I was glued to the Courage Campaign’s Prop 8 Trial Tracker when John and I started talking about producing a re-enactment to put on the web.  I wanted to know what was happening in the courtroom and that’s when I knew we needed to produce this.” Ainsworth noted.

The production is using professional actors and, where possible, they are casting as close to the appearance of the real people the actors portray.

The team is being advised by constitutional law scholar and Professor, David B. Cruz, from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law, which has made the replica courtroom available.  He is reviewing scripts and advising on courtroom dynamics and flow.  “People across the country and around the world were eager to watch this trial unfold, so I was eager to help make it accessible after the Supreme Court took the unusual step of blocking broadcast,” Cruz said.

Ireland is confident that a sizable audience is ready to tune in.  He says, “There is a huge buzz on the web about this trial.  I think a lot of people across our country were poised to watch the opening statements on the first day.  When access was blocked, the thirst for information just grew exponentially.”

According to Ainsworth, they should have last week’s five episodes “in the can” within a few days.  They will assemble a script each new trial day, notify the relevant actors and film that day’s testimony late into the night.  Ainsworth adds, “We are moving swiftly, so that more Americans can see our government in action as it reviews this landmark case.”

The re-enactment is being hosted on YouTube but, to find out more about the central cast in this real life saga, you can go to John Ireland’s website and look at the profiles of the main players involved.

The team have vowed to keep their re-enactment videos as close to real-life events as possible, cross-referencing transcripts and staying away from the temptation to spice things up. If events in the courtroom are dry, then the re-enactment will be dry, which from my point of view is exactly as it should be.

Want to know what to expect? Well, here’s a trailer that Ireland and his team have put together:

As soon as the full episode becomes available I’ll let you know. In the meantime, a few quick updates with regards to the Proposition 8 court case.

Wednesday, day seven of the Prop. 8 trial, was extremely compelling as the case hit on one of the fundamental questions regarding sexuality: is sexuality immutable or can it be changed?

The pro Proposition 8 side are arguing that sexuality can be changed through counseling and “therapy” and that they will further substantiate this when their expert witness takes the stand next week.

Ted Olson and David Boies’ side wanted to prove otherwise. They presented a witness called Ryan Kendall who told the story of how, at age 13, he had known he was gay and that, when his parents found out, they forced him into religious “reversal therapy,” sending him first to a local therapist and then to the California-based National Association for Research & Therapy on Homosexuality (NARTH). 

The pro Prop. 8 lawyers objected to this testimony saying that it was “anecdotal evidence” but Judge Walker disagreed and allowed Kendall to continue.

Kendall testified that, by the age of 16, the “therapy” had not worked for him and that it had left him with two choices: to break contact with his family or to commit suicide.

Fortunately Kendall chose to sever his relationship with his parents, but he was scarred by the therapy and the rejection he felt, telling the court, “I was incredibly suicidal and depressed. I hated my entire life. So no, things did not get better.” After five years of self-destructive behavior, Kendall did manage to turn his life around, and he now lives in Colorado working for the police department.

Documents were also produced that demonstrated how the Yes on Prop. 8 campaign was significantly helped by various religious institutions including the Mormon Church. Professor Gary Segura, a professor of political science at Stanford University, took the stand and argued that those documents proved an “unprecedented” show of multi-church unity against a minority and that it put LGBTs at a severe disadvantage in the political sphere. He also argued that the number of ballot initiatives against LGBT rights in America proves that LGBTs are a politically vulnerable class, saying, “There is no group in America… who have been targeted by ballot initiatives more than gays and lesbians.”

Another interesting point from yesterday came when Professor Segura was cross-examined by attorney David Thompson. Thompson attempted to use a speech made by President Obama last year to argue that the President is a powerful ally for LGBT people and that LGBTs can not be considered vulnerable because of that. In the speech, Thompson noted, Obama promised to end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and cited the recent success of the Matthew Shepard Act being signed into law.

Professor Segura refuted that argument, saying that Obama was “possibly the best illustration of an ally who cannot be counted on, whose rhetoric far exceeds his actions.” He also described members of Congress, who Thompson pointed to as evidence of political influence, as “soft allies.” Segura later added, “We have to look at the disconnect between rhetoric and action.”

Segura will be back on the stand on Thursday for more cross-examination. The Plaintiffs are said to have two remaining witnesses, one of which will be hostile witness William Tam, a proponent of Proposition 8.

Just one final point to draw your attention to. Fellow Care2 blogger Robin Marty has written a great piece on how she feels regarding the pro Proposition 8 team’s recent argument that because two men can not breastfeed they are unsuitable for marriage because marriage is, apparently, all about the breastfeeding. As Robin asks, what about lesbian couples? Breasts aplenty there. Click here to read “My Breasts Don’t Make Me a Mom.”

As always, the Courage Campaign is running a live blog on the Prop. 8 trial so that you can keep up with events in the court room as they happen. You can follow it by clicking here.

The American Foundation for Equal Rights is now making available full transcripts of the trial events. You can find those here.

You can also follow the case on Twitter via the Twitter Feed of the American Foundation for Equal Rights.

Related Reading:

Care2 Related Reading:


Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to -Marlith-.


Tim n Ash Black
Ash wilson7 years ago

thank you

GreenseasKat C.
kathryn cook7 years ago

ty for the post

Zoi Ioz
Zoi Ioz7 years ago

I'm just always flabbergasted by the arguments and opposition to same sex marriage... They always just seem like blind flailing to me, hoping to hit something by accident. I don't understand the hate. I don't understand why, of all issues, of all people, gay and lesbians and their rights are seen as pressing issues with dire consequences. I cannot imagine what a limited world view it takes to think that way.

And just fyi-- As a Canadian, in a straight marriage, I want every gay and lesbian person in the U.S. currently undergoing this appalling persecution to know you have not only my support, by the support of many of my fellow Canadians. These are your rights-- they are not up for debate. Anyone who seeks to limit human rights is a dictator.

Greenseas gone
kathryn cook7 years ago

Thanks for the post

Charlene R.
Charlene Rush7 years ago

Surely, there is a very DEEP-SEEDED reason for this anti-LGBT attitude. Could it be that it threatens peoples belief in god, in some way. I don't get it. As long as it does not involve you, live and let live and let god that care of the rest.

Minding one's own business, is not a bad idea.

BMutiny ThemIDefy

To clarify: In Washington State they didn't want their names published that they signed on an anti-gay, anti-domestic-partnership Initiative, as the law requires.

Some local pastors here NO LONGER publicly oppose Gay Rights legislation, because, they stated in a newspaper interview, "We're tired of being called 'bigots'".

What a reversal! it used to be GLBT people who were made to feel shamed.
NOW, it's the BIGOTS, who OUGHT to feel shame... and we can make that point!

BMutiny ThemIDefy

Why does the Right Wing want no publicity for its evil maneuverings? {In Washington State they didn't want their names published that they signed on an Initiative, as the law requires.} What are they hiding?

Gay people aren't hiding, have nothing to be ashamed of, aren't in the closet any more!

Is it possible, that the Right is now feeling SHAME for their rotten actions?
{Yes, there is evidence that this is the case. They'd rather we didn't know. They prefer to operate in the dark.}

Shell S.
Past Member 7 years ago

Thanks for keeping us updated on this very important trial for human rights : )

Mary Roberts
Mary Roberts7 years ago

Thank you for posting this!

Joseph Belisle
Joseph Belisle7 years ago

This reminds me of the Scopes Monkey trial.