NORFOLK, Va. – In addition to the many terrific readings, talks, visual arts presentations and the like, next week’s 35th Annual Old Dominion University Literary Festival will feature staged readings of Dustin Lance Black’s play 8.
The performances run from Wednesday to Friday, and proceeds benefit ODU Out: Student Alliance and The American Foundation for Equal Rights. Black, a screenwriter who won an Academy Award for Milk, is a founder of the latter group.
The foundation has been fighting Proposition 8 at the federal level, where two elements of the judiciary already have sided against the state constitution amendment California voters passed in 2008, ending the right for same sex couples to marry.
8 is based upon testimony and arguments from the federal trial in 2010 before the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which said Prop. 8 is unconstitutional. Proponents of the amendment are pushing the Supreme Court to overturn reversals, and there’s a possibility the high court may take the matter up soon.
The play debuted on Broadway last year, but it remains an incredibly timely work.
I traded emails with Bradley J. Bledsoe this week about the upcoming staged reading. Bledsoe, a junior majoring in finance, serves as director of finance for ODU Out. Here’s a quick Q&A:
Q: How did we get the staged reading here at ODU?
It was a combined effort that was initiated by ODU Out. However – with the collaboration of the President’s Office, ODU Theatre Department and ODU Gay Cultural Studies – ODU will not only be producing the play 8, but also hosting a lecture for Dustin Lance Black for the President’s Lecture Series at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 2.
Q: Where do the proceeds of the performances go?
Ten percent of all these proceeds will be going to the American Foundation for Equal Rights to help fight the Prop. 8 trials. […] The remaining proceeds will go to support ODU Out: Student Alliance’s mission:
- To provide safe and reliable resources to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) community;
- Provide a voice for the LGBTQ community and its allies on campus;
- Educate the University population about LGBTQ issues; and
- Work to promote and advance LGBTQ rights within the University community through policy.
Q: Why did you join ODU Out? How has it been meaningful to be part of the group?
I joined ODU Out nearly a year ago through persuasion of friends, faculty and advisors to effectively market and promote this crucial organization to not only the student body but to build lasting alliances of local LGBTQ organizations. Through this networking of organizations such as Hampton Roads Pride, Hampton Roads Business Outreach, LGBT Center of Hampton Roads/Access Aids Care and Equality Virginia, I found that ODU Out has built a stronger foundation for the organization to stand in order to successfully implement our mission statement.
We LOVE volunteers! For anyone interested in finding out more about volunteer opportunities or for more information on upcoming events, sponsorships and donations, we have an interactive website and Facebook page.
Black speaks at 7:30 p.m, Tuesday, Oct. 2, in North Cafeteria at Webb University Center at 49th Street and Bluestone Avenue. Admission for the talk is free. Parking is free for literary festival events. Here is a fairly helpful map.
The staged readings of 8 are at 8 p.m., Wednesday through Friday, Oct., 3-5; and 12:30 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday, Oct. 3-4 at Old Dominion University Theatre, 4600 Hampton Blvd. General admission is $20; students $15. Parking? Still free, unless you go with a metered spot, which is on you.
Lisa Keen of Keen News Service on Thursday noted that there is a significant Supreme Court session for LGBT issues coming up, and the Prop 8 issue is not alone. Keen writes:
Two of the nine cases include high-profile landmark decisions in federal appeals courts – one declaring the California’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, the other holding the core section of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to be unconstitutional. Whether the court refuses to hear the appeals or takes them, the result will set up another landmark in the LGBT civil rights struggle.
Seven of the nine cases revolve around challenges to DOMA, one concerns Proposition 8, and the ninth is an attempt by the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage (NOM) to circumvent campaign reporting laws when it spends money to push anti-gay initiatives.
Here’s some background on “what’s next” in the Prop. 8 fight from The American Foundation for Equal Rights:
- If the U.S. Supreme Court decides to hear our case for marriage equality, the announcement can come as early as Sept. 25. AFER’s distinguished co-counsel Ted Olson and David Boies will file written briefs and present oral argument in the spring. A final decision would likely be issued by June 2013.
- If the Court decides not to hear our case, the announcement could come as early as Oct. 1. The Ninth Circuit decision that ruled Prop. 8 unconstitutional will be made permanent, with marriages starting as soon as the Ninth Circuit issues its mandate, likely within several days after the Supreme Court denies review.