One odd couple, attorneys David Boies and Ted Olson, stand on opposite sides of the political aisle, and were adversaries in Bush v. Gore in 2000.
Despite their differences, they admire each other professionally, even becoming friends.
But their support for gay marriage, as two straight men, brings them together on the same legal team, as the film documents.
“Marriage is a conservative value,” maintains Olson, whose wife, conservative commentator and author Barbara Olson, died in the 9/11 attacks. “We should want people to come together in marriage.”
“This is the most important thing I’ve ever done,” he says.
And perhaps the hardest.
Their story is told in this documentary:
Olson and Boies team up with gay advocates, shortly after California voters support Proposition 8 in 2008, which effectively outlaws gay marriages in the state.
Immediately, Olson is viewed with suspicion, on the right and the left.
“I have no idea what’s happened to Ted Olson,” steams Rush Limbaugh on his talk show.
Olson was among the attorneys who helped former President George W. Bush win election in 2000, in a dispute over Florida’s 237-vote margin for Bush that ended at the Supreme Court. Boies fought for former Vice President Al Gore’s demanded recount of under-voted ballots in four Florida counties — ultimately rejected as unconstitutional by the highest court.
Some liberals, on the other hand, are convinced that Olson is set on infiltrating the legal team, so he can sabotage it.
Someone jokes they spend more time “fighting LGBT groups (about Olson) than right wing nut jobs.”
After a long vetting process, the team selects plaintiffs, gay couples who want to be married, to gain standing in court.
The film plays voice mails left for the lesbian couple, Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, in which the caller calls them “stinking dykes.”
They are harassed and taunted coming in and out of court hearings.
By the time Olson and Boies make it to the Supreme Court, several years of legal wrangling have passed, with emotional casualties along the way.
On June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court renders two historic decisions, giving Californian gay couples the right to marry, and ending the federal discrimination of gay couples by the Defense of Marriage Act.
“The Case Against 8″ debuts on HBO on June 23, and will be screened at select theaters nationwide.
It won the 2014 Sundance Film Festival Directing Award in the U.S. Documentary category.
As of last month, 19 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marriage for same-sex couples.