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23 Feb 2009

Oscar winners Dustin Lance Black, Sean Penn push gay marriage rights

Dustin Lance Black, whose script for Milk won the award for original screenplay, and Sean Penn who played the slain gay rights leader in the same movie both made a plea for same-sex marriage rights in their acceptance speeches.

While accepting his award for best original screenplay at last night's 81st annual Academy Awards, the 34-year-old first-time nominee and out gay man told the audience - and millions watching at home - how hearing the story of Harvey Milk as a 13-year-old boy gave him the hope to live his life openly, and maybe even fall in love and one day get married.

Sean Penn (left) and Dustin Lance Black (right) with director Gus Van Sant (middle) at the Milk World Premiere at Castro Theatre, San Francisco in Oct 2008.

Dustin Lance Black said: "Oh my God. This was, um, this was not an easy film to make. First off, I have to thank Cleve Jones and Anne Kronenberg and all the real-life people who shared their stories with me. And, um, Gus Van Sant, Sean Penn, Emile Hirsch, Josh Brolin, James Franco and our entire cast, my producers Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen, everyone at Groundswell and Focus for taking on the challenge of telling this life-saving story.

"When I was 13 years old, my beautiful mother and my father moved me from a conservative Mormon home in San Antonio, Texas to California, and I heard the story of Harvey Milk. And it gave me hope. It gave me the hope to live my life. It gave me the hope one day I could live my life openly as who I am and then maybe even I could even fall in love and one day get married.

"I wanna thank my mom, who has always loved me for who I am even when there was pressure not to. But most of all, if Harvey had not been taken from us 30 years ago, I think he'd want me to say to all of the gay and lesbian kids out there tonight who have been told that they are less than by their churches, by the government or by their families, that you are beautiful, wonderful creatures of value and that no matter what anyone tells you, God does love you and that very soon, I promise you, you will have equal rights federally, across this great nation of ours," he said to thunderous applause. "Thank you. Thank you. And thank you, God, for giving us Harvey Milk."

Speaking with reporters backstage, he said: "Harvey gave me his story and it saved my life, and I just thought it's time to pass it on. The only thing I knew I wanted to say was to tell those kids out there that they would be all right."

Sean Penn, who played the slain gay rights leader Harvey Milk in Milk, won his second Academy Award for best actor. His first was for Mystic River in 2004.

Harvey Milk is the first openly gay man elected to major public office in the US. Additionally, the film has also been in the spotlight following the passage of Proposition 8 - which rolled back the newly-won right of same-sex couples to marry in California - late last year.

"You commie homo-loving sons of guns," the actor began his speech as saying, drawing laughter from the audience. "I did not expect this, and I wanted to be very clear that I do know how hard I make it to appreciate me, often. But I am touched by the appreciation."

"For those who saw the signs of hatred as our cars drove in tonight, I think it's a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect on their great shame and their shame in their grandchildren's eyes if they continue that support," Penn said referring to anti-gay marriage protesters who had been picketing outside the theater. "We've got to have equal rights for everyone."

The big winner at this year's Academy Awards ceremony was Slumdog Millionaire which won eight Oscars, including best picture and best director for Danny Boyle (Trainspotting and 28 Days Later). Set largely in Mumbai, India, the 'Bollywood' melodrama tells the story of an orphaned Mumbai boy who grew up in the slums and becomes a contestant on the Indian version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

Slumdog's main competition, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button which stars Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, won just three Oscars, all in minor categories. The film had led the pack with 13 nominations.

The late Heath Ledger won the award for best supporting actor for his role as the Joker in The Dark Knight which also picked up an award for sound effects.

The best supporting actress went to Penelope Cruz for her performance in Vicky Cristina Barcelona, making her the first Spanish actress to win an Oscar. In it, she plays Maria Elena, a woman who has a relationship with Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) and Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem).

And Kate Winslet finally won hers - on her sixth try, taking home the best actress prize for the Holocaust drama The Reader.

For complete list of winners, click on to oscars.org.


1. 2009-02-23 19:52  
I am so proud that Mr. Black delivered his speech with composure and dignity, and that really moved me.
2. 2009-02-23 20:25  
The best speech of the night! One to remember!
4. 2009-02-23 20:49  
So happy that Sean and Dustin won. I'm sure their speeches will be censored or parts of it blocked out when telecast on S'pore TV tonight. Nonetheless 3 cheers to the homos and homo-loving sons of guns :)
5. 2009-02-23 21:13  
Yeah! Pretty sure they speeches will be mute or cut during the Oscar re-run tonight!

Could someone record the edited version down and post in on Youtube PLEASE!
6. 2009-02-23 21:57  
Great speech in the Oscar!
7. 2009-02-23 22:36  
I wonder if "Got Milk" Ts are available for sale here (proceeds to AIDs charity or kids in need). It would be so befitting to wear them and be proud of one global solidarity.
8. 2009-02-23 22:46  
Is the speech censored on TV again in Singapore just like last year oscar?
9. 2009-02-23 23:32  
All Dustin Lance Black said on Singapore's Channel 5 was: "Oh my God. This was, um, this was not an easy film to make. First off, I have to thank Cleve Jones and Anne Kronenberg and all the real-life people who shared their stories with me. And, um, Gus Van Sant, Sean Penn, Emile Hirsch, Josh Brolin, James Franco and our entire cast, my producers Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen, everyone at Groundswell and Focus for taking on the challenge of telling this life-saving story."
10. 2009-02-24 00:17  
Well, we are not surprised. All the efforts to censor speeches from international event than to focus on producing something worth watch. Narrow minded Medium Cock.
11. 2009-02-24 02:43  
to my disappointment, Channel 5 censored Sean Penn's acceptance speech as well.
12. 2009-02-24 04:36  
This is what we gay people in Singapore should do: (I'm reposting a good reply to a censorship article posted 2008):
Think a good angle of pressure anyone can give is the contradicting accountability between the ministries/agencies and what Snr Minister/PM talks about opening up and doing away with such law before on penal code 377A.

Is MDA disrespecting the message and spirit of what PM intends to convey? How can they censor a good message from people like Ellen or from the Oscars and not do more on violence, bad taste programs & promiscuity of ALL types instead.

Why the unnecesary shrouding of homosexuality? Justify why images of homosexuality is liken to a disease like leprosy? Where's the respect for human rights? Who drafts and arrives at MDA's guidelines pertaining homosexual scenes? Home Affairs? Ministry of Community, Youth & Services? What are these ministries doing to enhance understanding, acceptance and ensuring justice, equality harmony for its people?

Heads should roll for the kind of distress all these bodies are causing productive, law abiding gay people and their families and friends which equates to general population, isn't it?
14. 2009-02-24 04:41  
This is why I'm working hard on my post grad degree so I can FINALLY chuck away that pink IC- representing homophobia and a disgraceful elderly care system, and move to a country which RESPECTS me and my wife, affords a higher standard of living for my family, and in which I can raise a family with pride and equal rights as a citizen. Singapore is an socially uncivilized state, a barbarian in a wealthy man's clothes.
15. 2009-02-24 09:16  
"to my disappointment, Channel 5 censored Sean Penn's acceptance speech as well." from benjiX

That is too bad. I am sure his speech is already posted in YouTube.
Terrible that your country had to censure/block his speech - what for? What he had to say is not going to harm anyone.
16. 2009-02-24 11:13  
singapore is going so backwards when everyone is already way way ahead...disappointed when both dustin and sean's acceptance speech were cut...ignorance is a sin.
17. 2009-02-24 12:07  
Bernium, I'm 100% with you :)
I myself have stopped all watching free-to-air TV here altogether. "Ridiculous' is the nicest word I will give to describe their censors & program lineups. A friend even told me once ChannelNewsAsia'a just a cheap copy of CNN & Fox News, the latter two already being bad enough hahaha... Initially I thought his remarks a tad exagerrating, but found it true after watching & comparing news media from across the globe.
19. 2009-02-24 13:20  
I totally agree he say.
21. 2009-02-24 13:28  
The Singapore government & its systems do as they pleases, simply becos, they can-yes they can!!!-period! Their citizens deserve the government they elect. Till and until such times when a call for CHANGE like the Obama campaign ever materializes there, everything else is a big zzzzzero-period!
22. 2009-02-24 14:11  
I dun understand why Sean Penn gets so much credit for showing support for a president who is against gay marriage then goes on to fight for gay rights....????
24. 2009-02-24 14:30  
Dustin Lance Black Oscar Acceptance Speech

Penn Wins for "Milk" Acceptance Speech

be up until the AMPAS finds it and complains... search youtube :)
25. 2009-02-24 17:51  
Immature censorship policies and attitudes towards gay people will prevent Singapore fulfilling its potential as an international hub for media, film and the Arts generally.

This happened last year, but I wonder how many Singaporeans actually wrote in/ are writing in to Channel 5/MDA to complain.
26. 2009-02-24 18:02  
Thank you Harvey Milk and Mr. Black for your gifts of Hope and Inspiration. Three cheers for all us Queers and EVERY homo-loving son-of-a-gun around the world.
27. 2009-02-25 03:38  
Anti-gay US pastor Fred Phelps would be treated as VIP in Singapore ya?..:P
28. 2009-02-25 09:53  
How nice!
29. 2009-02-25 14:08  
Thank God for the World Wide Web!!!!
Thank Sean Penn for hs speech & great potrayal...he deserves the Oscar :)

Edit: A big thank you to Dustin Lance Black, for the splendid screenplay. And giving us hope xx
30. 2009-02-25 14:14  
Wow! agree with Post #24 Bains- Dustin's
a great guy & brings us all plus hope...let's just get better & more fabulous yr after yr! ;))
31. 2009-02-26 01:51  
fred phelps? bah! want to know how we treat myanmar generals?
32. 2009-02-26 03:07  
STAR satellite service (serving 300 million homes in Asia) also reportedly cut the gay references in Penn and Black's speeches, on reruns, because of the guidelines of some of their markets.

Not hard to guess which.

33. 2009-02-26 13:50  
STAR TV is a FAMILY FRIENDLY channel! Not just gay references like the Oscar, they also constantly cut violent scenes and bad languages in all their program. Just compare Star Movies and HBO movies!

And they don't just do it to Singapore market!
34. 2009-02-26 14:01  
In Malaysia they censored 'Prop 8' like what's the big deal seriously. Like we don't already know what's going on in the world - it's almost insulting..

Kudos to Sean Penn and Dustin Lance - totally amazing... for standing up for same sex marriages.
35. 2009-02-26 17:18  
Voices are powerful! "Without hope, we lose our lives" (Harvey Milk). Finally get a chance to see the movie "MILK" during day off. This docu-drama is sensational, witty, un-bias, and emotional at the end! Highly recommend this motion picture, it truly speaks out "We are who we are", and the gay civil rights we are still fighting for!



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