Take a Drink: whenever somebody says “marriage”
Take a Drink: whenever Ted Olson drops the hammer
Take a Drink: for opposition viewpoints
Take a Drink: whenever someone breaks down into tears
Do a Shot: for underhanded bullshit
By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) –
I was watching last season’s finale of Modern Family recently, a show that may not be as good as it once was, but which still packs a surprising punch at times. It was Marshall and Cameron’s wedding, two characters who’ve been edging ever closer to shrill stereotypes, but in the final scene Cameron’s gruff, not entirely “modern” father Jay surprises him by telling him he wants to walk his son down the aisle. He’s happy that his son is happy, and wants to support his baby boy. Shut up! There’s just something in my eye.
The thing everybody seems to forget in these polarizing national debates, like gay marriage for which California’s gay marriage-eliminating Proposition 8, is that at the heart of them all are regular people. The Case Against 8 does a good job of cutting through the rhetoric and showing just that. On the surface, it covers the legal battle to overturn Prop 8, but it also documents the two landmark couples at the center of it.
This documentary is a sneakily powerful one, not only an extremely interesting procedural on how courts and the law operate at this high level, but also an impassioned plea from players both eloquent and average. It touches on the morality of limiting the rights of individuals who neither mean nor cause any harm to those who wish to limit them, but more importantly for immediate progress, it takes apart their legality. Prop 8 and its ilk aren’t a referendum on sexuality. They’re a referendum on what our legal system can and should allow.
Because “Separate but Equal” worked out so great last time.
The Case Against 8 is a nice inside look at history in motion (interesting how the defense even got flak from LGBT groups, or seeing the Supreme Court in action), but also an interesting character study. The primary lawyers actually faced off on either side of the Bush v. Gore case, and conservative lawyer Ted Olson is a particularly interesting character, with his strong rhetoric and interesting perspective on the world (marriage is a conservative value, so the more married people the better). Most engaging, though, are the gay and lesbian couples who challenged the law. Their mundanity and innocuous likability are the best case for gay marriage (and tolerance in general) you could ever make.
This movie is very one-sided, not in a polemic way, but in a way that limits its utility as a historical document. Only passing mention is made of the opposing side’s arguments, and generally only the more inflammatory ones. There are clearly some highly educated, very intelligent people on the other side of the courtroom, and examining how they made their case would have made both a better procedural and a better insight into how this issue divides a nation.
These people aren’t lawyers.
The Case Against 8 is an enlightening look at a landmark legal and social moment in U.S. history.