The issue of Proposition 8 or simply Prop 8 has been going on for four years now. California's Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal in that state in 2008, striking down Prop 22, the west coast version of the Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA. Opponents put together the Prop 8 ballot initiative that same year to make same-sex marriage illegal again. In November of that year, the same day that Barack Obama was elected president, the state of California voted and passed Prop 8, banning gay marriage for the second time in less than a decade.
In August 2010, Judge Vaughn R. Walker of the U.S. District Court ruled that Prop 8 was unconstitutional. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the federal court for the western states, upheld Walker's decision in February 2012, but Walker's ruling was put on hold pending word from the U.S. Supreme Court about this case and the related DOMA cases. This documentary focuses on the time between Obama's election in '08 and Walker's gavel in '10. Its subjects are those people who used that time to organize rallies and protests reminding people how bad Prop 8 is.
Director Charles Gage and writer-producer Ian Jude McIntosh gather interviews from the individual, grassroots leaders of the various protestors that sprung up in reaction to the Prop 8 vote. There was one major group organizing the opposition to Prop 8, but many of the protestors thought that major group was not being representative and obviously not doing enough to stop Prop 8. The protestors mostly centered in southern California decided to do what they could independent of the major, state-wide campaign against Prop 8. What Gage and McIntosh craft is a wave of emotion from these protestors starting in regret and guilt, moving to frustration and anger, and ending in self-empowerment and a little self-satisfaction.
The majority of the interviews here are Black, Asian, Hispanic or Women. They gripe that the state-wide campaign maintains a mostly white and male perspective and prejudice. There is some sniping at the state-wide campaign, which is almost condemned as racist. This in a way fuels their activism. The video of that activism, which mostly looks shot with cell phone cameras, is of the various protests and rallies. We see crowds of people over and over, packed, holding up signs, marching down streets and chanting, sometimes with megaphones. It really shows and proves that it is as one person comments, "Stonewall 2." Interspersed are stories of same-sex couples talking about their lives and loves and their marriages, which are heartbreaking and sweet.
The best debate about same-sex marriage is "Dan Savage Vs. Brian Brown: The Dinner Table Debate," which can be found on YouTube. This documentary, however, as its title suggests, is not that. This movie is not a debate. It's people pushing for marriage equality and gay rights, and no other point of view is allowed. I don't know how well that plays to non-LGBT people. It's more or less preaching to the choir. If that's a problem, the solution to it is the interview toward the end. Morgan Early is like a female version of Zach Wahls from Iowa. She is the heterosexual child of gay parents. What she does and what she says is just as personal and moving, as any of the other testimonials because it reminds non-LGBT people of the family aspects that binds everyone.
While each person interviewed is smart and engaging, beautiful and interesting in his or her own way, the most powerful moment in this documentary is the controversial one. A protest and boycott of El Coyote was a small precursor to the nation-wide protest and boycott of Chick-fil-A this year. Some, however didn't think it was a good idea. The honesty they show on both sides is what makes it so great.
Four Stars out of Five.
Not Rated But Recommended for General Audiences.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 29 mins.
Available on DVD from Amazon.
Available on VOD from iTunes, Google Play, YouTube Movies and more.