Liz Ely finds a read through of new play 8 to be topical and insightful, though perhaps missing some of the debate
It’s hard to believe that the passage of Proposition 8 was a whole four years ago. This was the introduction of a new measure into the California Constitution that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California”.
Since then, much has changed in the USA, with Barack Obama declaring his support for gay marriage (the first US President to do so), and there has also been quite some movement on gay marriage in the rest of the world. In the UK, there has been a clear push towards equal marriage, which is looking increasingly likely to be legalised. In addition, since 2008, same-sex marriage has been legalised in Argentina (2010), Denmark (2012), Iceland (2010), Norway (2009) and Sweden (2009) as well as parts of Brazil and Mexico. There have also been a number of countries introducing same-sex partnerships of various kinds.
It seems that momentum is building globally on this issue, and following Prop 8, many were not content to leave the matter as it was. Several court battles ensued; 8 is about Perry v. Schwarzenegger, the one that saw Prop 8 overturned.
Liz Ely found the complexities of marriage and the fullness of a potential debate were not always obvious in the production (or, probably, the court case itself):
This production highlighted, for me, many of the reasons why some queer activists are ambivalent about equal marriage as a campaign goal. The testimonies offered were powerful, but some of the arguments made for the importance of marriage seemed as though they would alienate people who either cannot or chose not to get married. Claims were put forward that sexuality cannot change over time and that without marriage relationships are somehow second-class. The ideas that “marriage makes my relationship valid” or that marriage “symbolises the most important decision you can make as an adult” are problematic from an intersectional feminist perspective.
Picture from the Seattle march for marriage equality, with two signs visible. One reads “Defend Equality. Love Unites.” The second sign reads “Married with Pride.” This picture uploaded by Flickr user LeeLeFever.