Opinion: Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw donate big to stop California’s marriage initiative

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As it now stands, backers of California’s Proposition 8, the initiative to ban same-sex marriage, have the fundraising lead, nearly $18 million to the foes’ $12.4 million.

But that could change. Hollywood is starting to play a big role in the effort to defeat the initiative. Director-producer Steven Spielberg and his wife, actress Kate Capshaw, announced today that they would put in $100,000 to kill the initiative.


The donation matches a $100,000 No-on-8 contribution announced last week by actor Brad Pitt.

Proponents of the initiative include many of the nation’s most prominent conservative Christian individuals and organizations, including Focus on Family and the American Family Assn., a group based in Tupelo, Miss., that singles out the entertainment industry as being at the root of many of the nation’s woes.

In a statement, Spielberg and Capshaw denounced the initiative: ‘By writing discrimination into our state constitution, Proposition 8 seeks to eliminate the right of each and every citizen in our state to marry regardless of sexual orientation. Such discrimination has NO place in California’s constitution, or any other.’

Bruce Cohen, producer of the film ‘American Beauty’ and a Los Angeles finance committee co-chair for the No-on-8 campaign, said the Spielberg-Capshaw donation affirmed ‘their unwavering commitment to equality in such a significant a way.’

The donation comes as the No-on-8 campaign begins airing the first ad of the campaign. The spot features a gray-haired heterosexual couple, Sam and Julia Thoron, explaining that they raised three children, all now adults. Their daughter, Liz Thoron, is a lesbian.

Soft music plays and a family picture appears. ‘My wife and I never treated our children different, we never loved them any differently, and the law shouldn’t treat them differently either,’ Sam Thoron, 69, says.

‘If Proposition 8 passes, our gay daughter and thousands of our fellow Californians will lose the right to marry,’ says Julia Thoron, 68.

Frank Schubert, manager of the Yes-on-8 campaign, called the ad ‘a blatant appeal to sympathy and emotion.’

‘I’m not surprised that they’re using a heterosexual couple,’ Schubert said. ‘I don’t think they want to show gay couples. I think they want to make gay marriage as, quote, normal, as possible. They want people to think gay marriage is completely normal, when it was created out of whole cloth by four judges.’

California is one of three states with a marriage measure on its November ballot. Arizona and Florida are the others. Proposition 8 would create a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between a man and woman. It would reverse a California Supreme Court decision issued this year that legalized same-sex marriage.

-- Dan Morain