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In San Francisco, Speaker Pérez joins all-star cast for reading of "8"

SAN FRANCISCO -- Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) will join Academy Award-winning writer Dustin Lance Black, Emmy Award-winning actress Holland Taylor and actor Luke Macfarlane at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco on Oct. 7 for a reading of Black’s stage drama “8” about California Proposition 8 and the case Perry v Schwarzenegger.

The reading will also feature California Shakespeare Theater artistic director Jonathan Moscone and LGBTQ activist Cleve Jones.

The Speaker will play the part of Stanford professor Gary Segura, an expert who testified about the pervasive underrepresentation of gays and lesbians in the political process, and the history of LGBT people being targeted by ballot initiative. This was a crucial element of the plaintiffs’ argument that Proposition 8 violated a number of important, long-standing tests for discrimination.

Pro-Prop 8 lawyers invoked Speaker Pérez’s name in cross-examining Segura, suggesting that his election as the first openly gay Speaker of a state Assembly somehow discredited the idea that gays and lesbians were politically targeted.

“As someone whose own rights were taken away by Proposition 8, and Proposition 22 before it, I am deeply honored to be participating in a production that brilliantly and vividly captures the critical moments of the trial that led to Judge Vaughn Walker’s groundbreaking ruling,” Speaker Pérez said. “This is an opportunity to help tell a powerful story of a victory celebrated by LGBT people, and people of conscience all over the country.”

Proceeds from the reading will benefit the American Foundation for Equal Rights, the sole sponsor of the Perry case, and LGBTQ youth participating in A.C.T.'s ACTsmart program, which offers free student matinee tickets and theatre-based workshops to Bay Area students in 23 public high schools.

“I certainly want to thank the American Foundation for Equal Rights and the American Conservatory Theater for putting on this production, and I absolutely want to recognize the play’s author, Dustin Lance Black, for the phenomenal way he has woven together the complexities of a legal proceeding in thoughtful, provocative and compelling way,” Pérez said. “Mr. Black’s play dramatically captures the passionate feelings of those who wake up every day looking forward to that moment when every LGBT person in America is treated with dignity, respect, and equality in the eyes of the law.”