The controversial film “8: The Mormon Proposition,” which harshly criticizes the Mormon Church for campaigning in favor or California’s ban on same-sex marriage, opened in select theaters Friday.
Focused on the 2008 passage of California’s Proposition 8, Director Reed Cowan’s documentary has struck a nerve with accusations that a “Mormon front group purchased passage” of the constitutional amendment, which narrowly overturned the state Supreme Court ruling that allowed gay couples to marry.
The film, first premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, follows the stories of many LGBT citizens seeking marriage equality and never-before revealed Mormon efforts to stop them.
Cowan presents evidence of the LDS Church’s work to persuade its members to donate money to the campaign for Prop 8 — and to hide the church’s involvement, knowledge of which would have dissuaded voters, through front organizations.
The stories of Tyler Barrick and Spencer Jones, two gay Mormon men, are the marquis players in 8:TMP. Barrick is the direct descendant of Mormon polygamist Fredrick G. Williams.
Watch the trailer here:
Initially, Cowan planned to focus his documentary on gay teen homelessness and suicide in Utah, but soon realized that the homophobia that prompts otherwise loving parents to kick teenagers out of their homes is deep-seated in current Mormon ideology.
Cowan, with his fellow filmmakers, experienced first-hand what it was like to grow up gay in Utah in the Mormon faith, turned their attention to the historic campaign by the Mormon Church to pass Proposition 8 in California believing that it was the cornerstone of an ideology that has worked for decades “to damage gay people and their causes.”
“8: The Mormon Proposition” opened in major markets Friday, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Phoenix, Fort Lauderdale and Washington D.C. It opens in San Francisco this week. (For all cities and theaters, visit the film’s website here.)
The film will be available on DVD July 13.
Editor’s note: On June 10, 2010, the Mormon Church agreed to pay a $5000 fine for failing to report some campaign staff contributions it made in support of Proposition 8.
On June 16, 2010, closing arguments were presented in a federal court in San Francisco in a landmark trial challenging the constitutionality of Proposition 8. A ruling by Chief Judge Vaughn Walker is expected within weeks. Complete trial coverage here.