The American Foundation for Equal Rights - the new organization sponsoring the federal legal challenge to Prop 8 - just put up a new, clean, easy to navigate website with lots of useful information, including videos, photos, the lawsuit, the plaintiffs' legal filings, news, press coverage, and press releases.
If you're following this historic case, bookmark this site: www.equalrightsfoundation.org.
AFER also set up an "Action" page where individuals join them on Facebook, Twitter - and can contribute to the federal legal challenge, which is expected to take a while - maybe years - to reach the US Supreme Court, though lead attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies want to expedite the process to give same sex couples their fundamental rights under the Constitution as soon as possible.
After the news conference announcing the new organization and the federal challenge to Prop 8, I talked with Chad Griffin, whom I'd first met during the No on Prop 8 fight last year. He told me that he and the new AFER board raised the millions of dollars necessary to launch the legal effort - which Griffin/Schake is doing pro bono. Ted Olson at the law firm of Gibson Dunn, and David Boies at his law firm, also worked out a deal so they could participate. But while they are focused on the upcoming trial in District Court on Jan. 11 (and a hearing on Wednesday about allowing a TV camera in the courtroom), Griffin said they know they must consider fundraising opportunities down the road. I pressed him a little and Griffin said those opportunities may include Olson and Boies and be held in LA and New York and elsewhere - but he stressed that nothing has been discussed or set up so far.
This is going to be one helluva an international media fest. Let's hope Judge Vaughn Walker grants the Media Coalition the right to have a pool camera in the courtroom - not done in federal district courts - so the trial can serve a broader educational purpose, too. If allowed, the pool will be In Session, formerly Court TV. Cathy Renna of Renna Communications has been working with their field producer to provide guests during their wall-to-wall coverage.
I will be covering the first couple of days of the trial - then I have to return to LA/West Hollywood for my duties as news editor at Frontiers In LA (the state may cut ADAP, for instance, to help close the $21.7 billion budget deficit). However, I hope to have a reporter on site to cover as much of the on-going trial as possible - as well as having In Session or the presumed live webcast feed dueling with CNN/MSNBC in the background.
Lisa Keen of Keen News Service is also planning on covering, as is Lisa Leff, the terrific Associated Press reporter based in San Francisco.
Over the weekend, California Lawyer Magazine came out with their 5,000-plus word cover story on the upcoming trial. Entitled "Anatomy of a Complaint: How Hollywood activists seized control of the fight for gay marriage," the feature is old news for Prop 8 trackers - but an interesting overview with an accurate timeline for newcomers.
I'm not pleased with the sub-head, though - which might have been added to grab attention since the implication of power-hungry "Hollywood activists" seems contradicted within the story itself. But even more importantly for me - the story with that sub-head doesn't bother going into any real depth as to WHY these "Hollywood activists" - namely Chad Griffin and his longtime client, director Rob Reiner, and Oscar-winning producer Bruce Cohen, plus Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, got behind this major effort in the first place.
Yes, there is the historic nature of the case, which the magazine does a good job of explaining. But then there is the personal side - the fact that Kris Perry, the plaintiff who's name is on the lawsuit, works for the First 5 Commission for kids, established by a political initiative created by Reiner and managed by Griffin. And while Bruce Cohen has intertwined the personal with the political for years (To Wong Fu - Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar, American Beauty) - the two completely merged on June 23, 2008 when LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa officiated the marriage of Bruce Cohen and Gabe Catone at City Hall. Working in the entertainment industry does not mean you forfeit your right to advocate for something you believe in - or in Bruce's case, someone you love.
I interviewed Ted Olson Monday for an extended special report for Frontiers that will hit the streets on Jan. 11, the day the trial starts. I've interviewed him before and once again Olson told me that he becomes even more deeply committed to helping win equal rights for gay people with every gay person he meets, works with and whose story he hears. The funny thing is - I'm gay and I feel the same way. Perhaps as the trial goes on, more and more mainstream reporters and those watching the trial or news updates on television will start to feel that way, too and ask: how is it right that our fellow American citizens are denied such a basic value as the right to pursue happiness and marry the one they love?
This story is cross-posted from LGBT POV.