Supreme Court Tackles California Ban on Same-Sex Marriage; Miami Law Stages Play About the Issue


Members of the cast of '8' at Miami Law, including, in front row from left, Charlton Copeland, Lauren Madigan, Fernando Valle and Ana Romes, in back row, Lissette Labrousse and Brian Stewart. (Photo: Miami Law)

It was inevitable that the issue of same-sex marriage would reach the highest court in the land. This week, the Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments on the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8, which amended that state's constitution to prohibit such marriages. The case, now known as Hollingsworth v. Perry, was filed in 2009 by what SCOTUSblog reporter Amy Howe calls a "legal odd couple" – trial lawyer David Boies and former Solicitor General Ted Olson, who are both best known for being on opposing sides in Bush v. Gore.

Howe writes that Boies and Olson filed the case four years ago with the intention of ultimately asserting in the U.S. Supreme Court that gays and lesbians have the same right to get married as everyone else. "But that goal led to concern from supporters of same-sex marriage that they were moving too fast," Howe goes on. "The country and the Court just aren't ready for same-sex marriage yet, the thinking went, and a loss at the Supreme Court could set the cause back for years if not decades. But as the case has moved along, public opinion has shifted dramatically with it."

Just as the issue was heating up again on the national stage, Miami Law presented a staged reading of the play "8," which chronicles the constitutional challenge to Proposition 8 and was written by Dustin Lance Black, the Academy Award-winning screenwriter of "Milk." Black, who also penned the film "J. Edgar" and wrote for the HBO series "Big Love," based the play on trial transcripts, first-hand observations in the courtroom and interviews with plaintiffs and their relatives.

The production at Miami Law – see a video of the show here – was staged under license from the American Foundation for Equal Rights and Broadway Impact, and was directed by Marc Fajer, a member of the law school's faculty who has more than thirty years of theatrical directing experience. The performance was arranged by OUTlaw, a student organization at Miami Law that seeks to advance the priorities of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community on campus.

The cast of 20, selected from the law school's students, staff, faculty, alumni and their families, included Professors Charlton Copeland and Bernard Perlmutter, as well as attorney Elizabeth Schwartz, who graduated from Miami Law in 1997 and has won numerous accolades for her work in the LGBT community. The other cast members wereRobert Latham, a Clinical Instructor and Practitioner-in-Residence; Janet Seitlin, J.D. '79 and an Adjunct Faculty member; Lauren Madigan, Program Coordinator of LawWithoutWalls; Nick Madigan, Executive Director of Communications; alumni Thomas Regnier, J.D. '03; Ana Romes J.D.'12; and Lissette Labrousse, J.D. '01; current students Fernando Valle, Maui Moore, Brian Stewart, Liana Nealon, Christine Elbauly, Ali Iftikhar, Freddi Mack, and Tedd Importico; and Richard Freedberg, former Theater Director at the International American School Arts Center in The Hague; and Rob Broadhurst, an MFA graduate of NYU's Musical Theater Writing Program.