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Assembly speaker to perform in Prop. 8 play '8'

September 21, 2012 |  1:42 pm

Speaker John A Pérez with Dustin Lance Black
Assembly Speaker John A. Perez (D-Los Angeles) will soon be trying his hand at another profession: acting.

California's first openly gay speaker will join an all-star cast in San Francisco next month for a reading of "8," a play about the federal trial to overturn Proposition 8, the controversial ballot initiative that took away the right of same-sex couples in California to marry.

The performance, set for Oct. 7 at the American Conservatory Theatre, will serve as a benefit for the American Foundation for Equal Rights, the nonprofit group that spearheaded the court case against Proposition 8. Past readings have featured celebrities, including George Clooney and Brad Pitt.

For Perez, the role is personal.

He will play Gary Segura, a Stanford professor who testified about the underrepresentation of gays and lesbians in politics and the history of anti-gay ballot measures. In a lengthy cross-examination during the trial, a lawyer for Proposition 8 challenged the notion that gays had been politically targeted, citing, among other things, Perez's election as the state's first openly gay speaker.

“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,” Perez said in a statement.

Perez said the play "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.”


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Photo: Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, right, speaks with "8" author Dustin Lance Black. Credit: Office of Assembly Speaker John A. Perez