Filmmakers Produce Dramatic Re-Enactment of Prop 8 Trial

(CBS/AP)
The high-profile trial challenging California's gay marriage ban can't be viewed on YouTube, but proponents of gay rights are doing the next best thing.

Two Los Angeles filmmakers are broadcasting online a dramatic re-enactment of the court challenge of Proposition 8, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker was initially going to allow cameras into his courtroom so the trial could be televised and streamed online, but the Supreme Court last month blocked the trial's broadcast, saying Walker failed to follow the proper procedures to do so.

That has prompted activists to cover the trial as closely as possible. Testimony in the trial came to a close on Wednesday, and closing arguments are slated for next month.

"We want all Americans to have a chance to judge for themselves, based on the evidence that was presented," John Ireland, one of the filmmakers producing the re-enactment, told the Chronicle.

Ireland and and his colleague John Ainsworth have already debuted first 12 "episodes" of the trial, which can be found at www.marriagetrial.com. Ireland and Ainsworth made an effort to cast attractive performers for both the defense and the prosecution, the Chronicle reports, so they would not bias their audience. "Transparency, not swaying anybody," is the goal, Ireland said.

The cast includes Academy Award nominee Tess Harper and Gregory Itzin, from the television series "24." The producers have used official trial transcripts and other resources to create the re-enactment and are consulting a law professor for legal guidance.

With cameras in the courtroom out of the question, proponents of gay rights have made efforts to provide close coverage of the court proceedings. The progressive Web site FireDogLake has a reporter dedicated to live-blogging the proceedings, and their site provides resources like court documents, profiles of the expert witnesses and links to other media coverage.

While same-sex marriage is still up for debate in California, gay rights advocates today gained the support of Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in their push to end the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, which bans gays from serving openly in the military. Mullen told Congress he personally supports ending the policy.

At least one other dramatic re-enactment of critical court proceedings was recently produced. In 2008, the film "The Response" was released -- a 30-minute film based on the actual transcripts of the Guantanamo Bay military tribunals.