American Foundation for Equal Rights

LA Premiere of “8″ Lifts Veil on Prop. 8 Trial

Play Shows World Why Equality Must Prevail

The American Foundation for Equal Rights & Broadway Impact Present One Night Only Exclusive Event on March 3, 2012 

Rob Reiner to Direct Dustin Lance Black’s Account of Historic Trial

Los Angeles, CA – Today, the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) and Broadway Impact announced the Los Angeles premiere of “8,” a play chronicling the historic trial in the federal constitutional challenge to California’s Proposition 8, written by AFER Founding Board Member and Academy Award-winning writer Dustin Lance Black and directed by AFER Founding Board Member and acclaimed actor and director Rob Reiner.

The production is an unprecedented account of the Federal District Court trial in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, the case filed by AFER to overturn Proposition 8, which stripped gay men and lesbians of the fundamental right to marry.

Black, who penned the Academy Award-winning feature film Milk and the new critically-acclaimed film J. Edgar, based “8” on the actual words of the trial transcripts, first-hand observations of the courtroom drama and interviews with the plaintiffs and their families.

“8” had its much-heralded Broadway world premiere on September 19, 2011, at the sold-out Eugene O’Neill Theatre in New York City.  The production brought in over one million dollars to support AFER’s efforts to achieve full federal marriage equality.

The Broadway premiere featured an all-star cast including Academy, Tony and four-time Emmy Award nominee Bob Balaban; Emmy and Tony Award-winner and two-time Golden Globe Award-nominee Ellen Barkin; acclaimed White Collar television star Matt Bomer; Emmy Award-winning journalist Campbell Brown; Golden Globe Award-winner and four-time Emmy Award-nominee Anthony Edwards; Academy and Golden Globe Award-winner and Tony Award-nominee Morgan Freeman; Tony Award-nominee Jayne Houdyshell; award-winning Broadway, television and film star Cheyenne Jackson; celebrated playwright and gay rights activist Larry Kramer; Academy, Emmy and two-time Golden Globe Award winner Christine Lahti; two-time Academy Award-nominatee, multiple Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning, and two-time Tony Award-winning actor John Lithgow; Tony Award-nominee and Broadway Impact co-founder Rory O’Malley; two-time Emmy Award-winning, Golden Globe and Academy Award-nominated director and actor Rob Reiner; Broadway star Kate Shindle; Emmy Award-winner Yeardley Smith; two-time Tony Award-winner Stephen Spinella; and Emmy Award-winner and three-time Golden Globe Award-nominee Bradley Whitford. The cast of “8” also featured Tony Award-nominee K. Todd Freeman, Jay Armstrong Johnson, Ken Leung and Ben Rosenfield.

“8” is set to have its Los Angeles premiere at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre on Saturday, March 3, 2012, for an exclusive, one-night-only fundraiser to benefit AFER.  High profile and award-winning actors will play the roles of the legal team, plaintiffs and witnesses for both sides of the historic Proposition 8 case.  Casting for the all-star benefit will be announced soon.

In addition to its Broadway and Los Angeles productions, AFER and Broadway Impact are licensing “8” to colleges and community theatres nationwide in order to spur action, dialogue and understanding.  AFER and Broadway Impact are helping produce these staged readings across the country with a full slate set for 2012.  The collegiate premiere of “8″ occurred this past weekend at The University of Michigan in front of a sold-out house, and featured Tony Award-nominee and Broadway Impact co-founder Gavin Creel as plaintiffs’ attorney Theodore B. Olson.

“People need to witness what happened in the Proposition 8 trial, if for no other reason than to see inequality and discrimination unequivocally rejected in a court of law where truth and facts matter,” said Black.  “I’ve built my career around exposing and uncovering ‘the real story.’ The goal of ‘8’ is to show the world that marriage equality is a basic constitutional right and that those who would deny this basic freedom from loving, committed couples have only vitriol and baseless hyperbole to fall back on. The facts are on our side and truth always finds the light. We are doing all we can to help speed that process along.”

The story for “8” is framed by the trial’s historic closing arguments in June 2010, and features the best arguments and testimony from both sides of the issue.  Scenes include flashbacks to some of the more jaw-dropping moments of trial, such as the admission by the Proposition 8 supporters’ star witness David Blankenhorn that “we would be more American on the day we permitted same-sex marriage than we were on the day before.”

AFER prevailed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California and Proposition 8 was held unconstitutional on August 4, 2010.  That ruling was appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit by the anti-marriage proponents of Proposition 8.  AFER’s legal team will be back in the Ninth Circuit for a hearing on December 8, 2011; a ruling on the constitutionality of Proposition 8 and the release of the trial video is expected soon thereafter.   The Perry case is widely anticipated to end up in the U.S. Supreme Court.

The American public was not given a chance to witness the historic trial because the proponents of Proposition 8 launched a desperate attempt to forever hide the video recording of the trial.  Although the trial proceedings were open to the public, and all courtroom testimony and events were well-documented, the trial video most vividly compares the weakness of Proponents’ arguments to the well-reasoned, valid and constitutionally-based arguments and evidence put forth by AFER’s legal team.

The video of the trial has been kept under seal due to a federal protective order.  AFER’s attorneys filed a motion asking the court to make the full and unedited recordings available for all to see, and that motion was granted on September 19, 2011, just hours before the Broadway premiere of “8.”

“Because this case involves the constitutional rights of millions of people, it is especially important for the public to see what happened during the trial,” said AFER Senior Project Director Adam Umhoefer. “Both sides had an equal opportunity and ample resources to assemble their strongest teams and put forth their absolute best arguments in a fair setting.  Viewed side-by-side there is simply no question that there was only one decision the court could have reached.  The moment we knew the trial would not be publicly broadcast we immediately began planning to find a way to show the world what happened in this historic case.  This play and our partnership with Broadway Impact allow us to do exactly that.”

“I was lucky enough to watch the initial closing arguments of Perry v. Schwarzenegger in San Francisco,” said Broadway Impact co-founder Rory O’Malley (Tony Award-nominee for The Book of Mormon). “We knew then and there that audiences needed to see and hear this story live, as we had done. ‘8’ builds on a successful tradition of documentary theatre—plays like The Laramie Project and The Vagina Monologues, which inspire us with their combination of art and activism.  We are thrilled to partner with AFER to bring this story to a national audience.”

Tickets for the play will be in high demand and are expected to sell out.  The proceeds will go directly to the fight for full federal marriage equality and to support educational efforts on the freedom to marry nationwide.




AFER – Elizabeth Riel 323.892.2081 or
Brandon Hersh 202.412.9766 or
Broadway Impact
– Sean Martin 516.480.6976 or

About the American Foundation for Equal Rights

The American Foundation for Equal Rights is the sole sponsor of the Perry case. After bringing together Theodore B. Olson and David Boies to lead its legal team, AFER successfully advanced the Perry case through federal district court and is now leading it through the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals before the case is brought to the United States Supreme Court. The Foundation is committed to achieving full federal marriage equality.

About Broadway Impact

BROADWAY IMPACT is a non-profit organization of theatre artists and fans mobilized in support of marriage equality.  Founded in 2008 by Tony Award-nominated performers Rory O’Malley (Book of Mormon), Gavin Creel (HAIR) and Production Coordinator Jenny Kanelos, BROADWAY IMPACT works to educate and inspire the theatre community into action.  Recent initiatives include helping to staff the phone banking efforts in New York State, creating a 3,000 piece letter writing campaign, gaining the funding for 1,400 supporters to attend the National Equality March and producing a rally for over 5,000 attendees in Midtown Manhattan where speakers included, Cynthia Nixon, Audra McDonald, David Hyde Pierce, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Governor David Paterson. BROADWAY IMPACT was awarded the 2009 Human Rights Campaign Community Award.