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Black, Dustin Lance (b. 1974)  
 
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Black had campaigned to have the California legislature recognize May 22 as "Harvey Milk Day" in the Golden State. Such a commemoration of Milk's birthday would honor the slain leader's contribution to gay rights. The bill establishing "Harvey Milk Day" had passed the legislature in 2008, but was vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger. On October 12, 2009, however, he announced that he had signed it.

The Governor's signing the Harvey Milk Day bill into law came the day after the National Equality March in Washington, D. C., at which Black spoke. The National Equality March was the culmination of a grassroots movement, led by veteran activists David Mixner and Cleve Jones, to refocus the gay rights movement from an incremental, local approach to a broader, national strategy.

Sponsor Message.

Black was devastated by the passage of Proposition 8 in California. He has criticized those in charge of the campaign against the initiative for failing to learn the lessons of Milk's campaigns in the 1970s, particularly the decision by the No on Proposition 8 campaign not to feature gay people in their commercials. "I thought, you know what, I want the gay and lesbian people leading this movement to either step aside or read their history books."

Black joined the board of The American Foundation for Equal Rights, the group that sponsored the federal challenge to Proposition 8. The American Foundation for Equal Rights supports the lawsuit filed by Republican former Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson and Democratic activist David Boies that argues that Proposition 8 violates the federal constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process.

The suit sponsored by AFER has led to the declaration that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional, first at the District Court level by Judge Vaughn Walker after an historic trial, and then, later, by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. It currently awaits United States Supreme Court review.

In 2011, after the Ninth Circuit refused to release videos of the Proposition 8 trial, known as Perry v. Brown, Black wrote the play 8, which portrays the actual events in the trial and the testimony that led to the declaration that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.

In September 2011, soon before his play's premiere in a one-night reading on Broadway, Black told the Associated Press that the trial "was the first time I've ever seen our case argued by the most capable lawyers in the world, in a court of law where the other side had to raise their right hand and swear to tell the truth. . . . It killed me to think that this would only live inside this courtroom for the dozens to see and not the country to see, and I think it killed all of us in the room. We immediately started trying to figure out, 'How do we get this truth out there?'"

Black crafted the play from the transcripts of the trial, supplemented by his firsthand observations of the trial and interviews with the plaintiffs and their families.

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

8 first opened at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre in New York City on September 19, 2011, and later broadcast to a worldwide audience on YouTube from the Ebell of Los Angeles Theatre on March 3, 2012. Both staged readings of the play featured all-star casts.

In the performance livestreamed on March 3, Brad Pitt stars as United States District Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker, who found Proposition 8 unconstitutional after presiding over the historic twelve-day public trial.

Pitt was joined by George Clooney and Martin Sheen as Plaintiffs' lead co-counsel David Boies and Theodore B. Olson, the renowned attorneys who notably faced-off in Bush v. Gore, the case in which the Supreme Court in effect appointed George W. Bush President of the United States, before teaming up to fight for marriage equality.

Other cast members include Christine Lahti and Jamie Lee Curtis as plaintiffs Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, a lesbian couple who have been together for eleven years and are the parents of four boys, two of which figure in the play. Matthew Morrison and Matt Bomer play plaintiffs Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo, a gay couple who have been together over ten years.

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