Yes, It's Okay to Thank Hollywood for California's Prop 8 Victory

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After Wednesday's Supreme Court rulings, predictably, a group of celebrities chimed in with Twitter cheers. Kristen Bell, who had announced that she and partner Dax Shepard would wait for gay marriage to be legal in California before they ever thought about tying the knot, proposed. They was not alone, with financial help from Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt to an all-out push that might finally show what all those fancy fundraisers are for.  The Hollywood Reporter's Tina Daunt today wrote a story declaring that Hollywood had a "key role" in bringing same-sex marriage back to California — that a Proposition 8 fight backed by famous people in the court and the court of public opinion "alone makes Hollywood's crucial intervention in the same-sex marriage issue a landmark in the history of the entertainment industry's support for human and civil rights." 

Los Angeles celebrities, of course, immediately joined the chorus of outrage on November 5, 2008, when their supposedly liberal state banned gay marriage. The next month, Funny or Die released "Prop 8 - The Musical," a satirical song-and-dance number starring the likes of Jack Black and Maya Rudolph, written by Marc Shaiman. At the time, Dave Itzkoff of the New York Times reported that the video "is also a reminder to Mr. Shaiman and like-minded colleagues of how events might have turned out if they had been vocal and organized before Proposition 8 was approved by California voters last month." 

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Prop 8 divided elements of the Hollywood political complex, after it was revealed that there were some among the community who donated to the effort. The Los Angeles Times reported in late November 2008 that the likes of L.A. Film Festival director Richard Raddon, a Mormon, was shunned for donating to the pro-Prop 8 efforts that had largely been enforced by the Mormon community out West.

But all parody aside, Hollywood clout literally helped get Hollingworth v. Perry all the way up to the nation's highest tribunal. As Adam Nagourney and Brooks Barnes reported in the New York Times last year, director Rob Reiner and his political adviser Chad Griffin were enormously influential in bringing financial backing and high-powered representation to the case. Reiner and Griffin were the ones who brought together the unlikely couple of David Boies and Theodore B. Olson, who argued against each other in Bush v. Gore. And then came the money. David Geffen wrote a check for $1.5 million. J.J. Abrams "significantly financed" the federal lawsuit along with Geffen, according to Daunt at THR. Dustin Lance Black's play last year, which featured the closing arguments from the federal trial Perry v. Schwarzenegger, harnessed celebrity power for fundraising purposes. The American Foundation for Equal Rights was the "sole sponsor" of the legal effort features Reiner, Griffin, and Black on the board. Producer Bruce Cohen is the president. 

So now, five years later, Hollywood can take pride in transforming a defeat into a victory. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.