Prop 8: Legal Art Inspires Equality

Posted in: Art | (Français) le27 March 2013

My latest artwork on the landmark Hollingsworth v. Perry case about same-sex marriage was on display for the first time at the New York Art Expo last week. This week the US Supreme Court shall hear arguments for this case by super-lawyers David Boies and Theodore Olson on behalf of same-sex couples.


The NY Art Expo attracted some 150, 000 visitors and everybody checking my artwork was amazed by my original idea of transforming legal concepts and cases into unique acrylic on canvas paintings.


While contemplating the Hollingsworth v. Perry artwork some visitors thought whether I was gay. I explained that we don’t have to be gay to fight for gay rights like we don’t have to be women to fight for women’s rights. We simply need to believe in a right and this right is about equality.


I’m glad that my artwork inspires equality by making people think about the conflicting values at play and realize that it’s OK to be different!


The Case History


In 2008, the state of California enacted Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment declaring that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” The effect of Proposition 8 was to ban same-sex marriage in California.


According to the Catholic Church, the Biblical definition of marriage is a sacred union that can only exist between a man and a woman. It cannot exist between two individuals of the same sex.


On the other hand, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community believes that the law should guarantee the same freedoms and rights to everyone, irrespective of their sexual orientation. For the LGBT community, marriage is an institution that conveys dignity and respect to the commitment of any couple. They believe that Proposition 8 denies lesbian and gay couples that same dignity and respect that opposite-sex couples enjoy.


Hollingsworth v. Perry is considered by many to be a landmark case. The two super-lawyers, Theodore Olson and David Boies who opposed each other in the famous Bush v. Gore election case decided to team up to challenge the validity of Proposition 8 on behalf of same-sex couples. In 2010, these two lawyers were chosen by TIME Magazine to be among the 100 most influential people in the world. They remind us that “the fundamental values binding us together are more important than those separating us.”


In 2010, a U.S Federal Court Judge declared Proposition 8 to be unconstitutional since it denied equal protection under the law. The case is currently being considered by the United States Supreme Court.


The Artwork


My painting depicts the different values opposing each other in this case. The canvas background represents colours of the rainbow flag synonymous of the LGBT pride. Each of these colours represent the different values cherished by the LGBT community.


In the middle, a cross symbolizes the presence of the Christian Church trying to protect marriage as a fundamental and sacred value inherent to Christianity. The same outline representing a cross from the inside also represents two identical pairs of faces from the outside. The first pair above represents a lesbian couple and the second pair below represents a gay couple.


Staring at each other, they are ready to exchange vows to seal their union.  However, they cannot get closer than they are because of the cross in their way. They can only formulate their ‘proposition to marry’ once Proposition 8 would be set aside.


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