Last night the American Foundation for Equal Rights hosted a historic night of theater when they live-streamed the West Coast premiere of the Dustin Lance Black play “8,” based on the Proposition 8 trials in Los Angeles, which sought to reverse a 2008 state-wide vote the declared same-sex marriage illegal in the state.
The premiere last night at the Wilshire Ebell Theater in Los Angeles was directed by Rob Reiner and the cast featured the likes of George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Martin Sheen, Kevin Bacon, John C. Reilly, Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Colfer, Matthew Morrison, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Matt Bomer and George Takei.
Here’s a brief description from 8theplay.com:
Uncover the truth about marriage for gay and lesbian Americans. “8″—a new play by Academy-award winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (Milk, J. Edgar)—demystifies the debate around marriage equality by chronicling the landmark trial of Perry v. Schwarzenegger. Learn about the historical context of marriage from expert testimony. See the human cost of discrimination. Uncover the arguments used to justify bans on marriage for gay and lesbian couples. Using the actual court transcripts from the landmark federal trial of California’s Prop. 8 and first-hand interviews, “8″ shows both sides of the debate in a moving 90-minute play.
And here’s the “8″ trailer:
The play saw a star-studded staged reading (Morgan Freeman, Cheyenne Jackson, John Lithgow, Rob Reiner, Ellen Barkin) on Broadway back in September to rave reviews, which has subsequently spawned a national phenomenon of sorts. Over the past few months AFER (the organization behind the plantiff’s lawyers during the Prop 8 trials) has been at the forefront of a nationwide marketing effort to promote the West Coast premiere that live-streamed on their website and YouTube.
Here’s a video of Reiner previewing the big night:
The big event last night was the kick-off to the “8″ national tour. AFER is also sponsoring staged readings at colleges and universities across the country. If you want your city to host a reading visit 8theplay.com for more information.
Now do yourself a favor and take the time to watch the full all-star West Coast premiere below:
Just after posting the previous story about Freedom to Marry’s petition to have marriage equality added to Ohio’s 2012 election ballot, I learned that Columbus’ Mayor, Michael Coleman has just publicly signed the Mayors for the Freedom to Marry Pledge and the Ohio Elected Officials Freedom to Marry pledge.
Here’s the official announcement from Equality Ohio:
Equality Ohio is pleased to announce that Columbus Mayor Mike Coleman has signed the Mayors for the Freedom to Marry Pledge and the Ohio Elected Officials Freedom to Marry pledge supporting the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. We appreciate his willingness to discuss this issue with community leaders and reach the decision to support full marriage equality. Thank you Mayor Coleman, and we look forward to hearing your 200th anniversary State of the City speech and cheering for you as the Grand Marshal of the Columbus Pride Parade in June.
It’s been reported that Mayor Coleman has been dragging his feet on signing the petition after many mayors, both democrat and republican, across the state and the nation have already signed on. It was a move that was puzzling as Columbus is considered one of the country’s largest gay meccas and Coleman has always been very pro gay rights.
Many local gay rights leaders and organizations came together and put in many man hours to have petitions signed and meetings with the mayor to change his mind.
Whatever the motivations or reason the lag, I say thanks to Mayor Coleman for finally signing the petitions, your commitment to equality is a great example to the state and the nation! And special thanks to all those who tirelessly fought to make this happen!
UPDATE (2/16 at 2:11 p.m.): The Columbus Dispatch has picked up the story and includes the below quote from Coleman’s spokesperson, Dan Williamson, stating why the mayor changed his mind:
“One of the things that pushed the mayor over the top on this issue was a meeting he had with a city employee, a veteran who came back,” Williamson said. “He told the mayor he’s now openly gay, but he had to hide things from his fellow soldiers,” while the don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy was in effect. “He said he was overseas fighting for everybody’s rights but his own.”
An new organization called Freedom to Marry Ohio has started a petition to have a marriage equality added to the state’s 2012 election ballot.
According to a press release for the organization, Freedom to Marry Ohio is a coalition of past and present elected officials, candidates, community and business leaders who are advocating for Marriage Equality in Ohio.The organization is led by Statewide Co-Chairs Tim Hagan (former Cuyahoga County Commissioner) and Andrew Ginther (President of Columbus City Council), and John O’Grady (Franklin County Commissioner). You can find out more by visiting their website, Facebook and Twitter pages.
As their first major project their gathering signatures to have same-sex marriage added to the 2012 ballot. They need 385,245 to make it happen.
The first big step to hitting that number is a goal of 1,000 signature by Wednesday, Feb. 22, which would validate the petition with the Ohio Ballot Board, said Ian James, Freedom to Marry Ohio’s volunteer outreach advocate. If the 285,000 signatures aren’t acquired by the July deadline the organization would be forced to shoot for the July 2013 deadline for the 2013 ballot.
It seems a major component of Freedom to Marry Ohio’s strategy is to included specific wording in the Ohio Constitution that would legalize marriages between same-sex partners, but while giving religious institutions the right to refuse performing same-sex marriage ceremonies. A long time argument for many against marriage equality has been that such laws would force churches to marry gay couples, thus impending or their First Amendment rights to freedom of religion.
If added to the ballot the decision for voters would be to amend the current same-sex marriage ban to read as follows:
In the State of Ohio and its political subdivisions, marriage shall be a union of two consenting adults and no religious institution shall be required to perform or recognize a marriage.
You can sign the petition at Mary Jo Kilroy‘s (who is currently running for Congress) Campaign Headquarters at 1349 E. Broad Street, Columbus. James also said there are now 200 volunteers committed to helping reach the petition’s goals. So get your pens ready!
Uganda gay rights activist and mister Mark Kiyimbaw will be speaking on Friday at the First Unitarian Universalist Church in Columbus about his work to protest gays in Uganda and end the hatred in his country.
I’ve covered the terrorism happening against gays in Uganda extensively here on Queer Corner. You’ve probably heard about the Kill the Gays Bill that was buried by the Ugandan Parliament after an outcry from gay rights groups around the country. Homosexuality is still illegal there and is still very hostile for anyone who is openly gay. Kiyimbaw himself had to flee for fear of arrest or worse. During the height of the Kill the Gays Bill frenzy earlier this year, fellow Ugandan gay rights activist David Kato was brutally murdered and the government made a mockery of his death.
Here’s more on Kiyimbaw from Examiner.com:
The Reverend Mark Kiyimba, minister of the Unitarian Universalist congregation in Kampala, Uganda, has been touring the United States to raise awareness of the persecution of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in Uganda.
Rev. Kiyimba fled Uganda in March after threats on his life for being an outspoken opponent of the proposed anti-homosexuality legislation in his country. The persecution of sexual minorities in Uganda has been linked toanti-gay conferences and workshops promoted by U.S. evangelicals for the past several years.
Mark Kiyimba founded the New Life Children’s Home to provide a place for children who have lost parents to AIDS, who are themselves HIV positive, or whose families no longer have the means to care for their children. He also started theNew Life Primary School, located in the Kkindu village west of Masaka, Uganda.
Kiyimba will speak at First Unitarian Universalist (93 West Weisheimer, Columbus) at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 11. This event is open to the public.
The closeted solider who has been popularly documenting his coming out process on YouTube for nearly six months has finally shown his face to the world.
I’ve featured him on Queer Corner a few other times. He’s 21, from Alabama, a servicemember who was serving in Afghanistan, but is stationed in Germany, and was deeply in the closet. Before his first video April 18, he’d never told anyone, not even his parents, and obviously not his girlfriend.
At about 3 a.m. this morning the now famous, yet still nameless, recruit filmed himself back in in his quarters on base in Germany coming out to father over the phone, to celebrate Obama and the military officially lifting Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. This time, however, he showed his entire face. It was probably one of the most powerful YouTube videos I’ve seen. His father, who sports a thick Southern accent, was great, reiterating the fact that he would always love his son, no matter what, throughout the call.
I’ve been watching this soldier’s YouTube videos for some time now and am happy to see he’s finally coming into his own and embracing his true self. He’s obviously gone viral and his chiseled features have also made him pretty popular in the gay blogosphere. I still maintain this is the most revolutionary piece of activism I’ve ever seen. This dude is definitely changing the game and changing lives in the process.
You can check out the moving video below:
Check out all of his videos at his YouTube page, AreYouSuprised, and you can also follow him on Twitter.
Air Force Airman Randy Phillips
UPDATE (9/21, 2:08 a.m.): The “headless soldier” has gone mainstream. He was featured on CNN last night, where his name was revealed (Randy Phillips) and he talked about his experience coming out to his mother. Click HERE to check out the CNN report
For the first time in America’s history gays can now openly serve in the military.
Sept. 20th marks the official repeal date set by President Obama, the Pentagon and the Joint Chiefs. And the press has been having a field day with the coverage leading up the momentous occasion. Here are few stories that have popped up already:
I’m sure there will be lots more coverage throughout the day to get soldiers’ coming out stories, interviews with new gay recruits and reactions on bases across the world.
We’ve still got a long ways to go where gay rights is concerned, but if only for today, I’m going to revel in the historical beauty.