Monday, February 27, 2017

The long road -- some of it, anyway -- to marriage equality, as documented in Eddie Rosenstein's THE FREEDOM TO MARRY

TrustMovies was going to begin his review of this new documentary by stating that gays and lesbians coming of age now and in the years to come may all too easily take for granted the right to marry whom they choose, without being fully aware of the long and arduous fight for marriage equality for the GLBT set. But now that Donald Trump, together with the vile Republican establishment, has taken control of our country, I wonder if anyone can count on much of anything anymore -- from gay rights and black lives mattering to health care, Medicare or Social Security, not to mention the environment, climate change and any kind of productive life as we've so far known or lived it.

Consequently and in light of current events, watching this not uninteresting but a bit too rah-rah documentary titled THE FREEDOM TO MARRY, directed by Eddie Rosenstein (pictured at right) and detailing the work of several of the more important personalities that finally helped bring gay and lesbian marriage into the realm of the legal and pretty much mainstream, becomes a pleasant enough but decidedly mixed-emotions experience.

Rosenstein concentrates especially on the work of Evan Wolfson (center, left, below), who is certainly one hero of this challenging endeavor. We learn something of Wolfson's history, his very supportive family, why he chose this particular fight and especially how he goes about planning to wage it.

We also meet and spend some time with lawyer and activist Mary Bonauto (center right, above), who teams with Wolfson and eventually argues the case for marriage equality before our Supreme Court. The third party involved, about whom we learn a good deal, is Marc Solomon (below, left), whose work and support also becomes game-changing.

The documentary begins some years prior to the Supreme Court decision and then works its way up to that climactic point. Along the way we hear a good deal from the voices against GLBT marriage equality, and this may put some viewers in mind of the recent movie, Loving, which detailed the fight for inter-racial marriage -- with those against that now-entrenched right parroting the same bigoted, faux-religious nonsense about how god is against it, so allowing it will be the destruction of the nation. (Look to crooked, cowardly, foolish and fraudulent Mr. Trump and his "Republicans" to bring us that.)

In the months leading up to the Supreme Court decision, we get California's infamous Proposition 8. Notes one activist, "We were making all this progress, then all of a sudden it was like we made a U-turn." We also learn why Texas was such an important state in the push for gay rights. After about an hour, we're at the SCOTUS moment, after which the movie begins to seem just a bit dragged out in order to bring its running time to a near 90 minutes.

We do get to see a bit of the Deboer-Rowse wedding (above) -- the pair was one of the couples whose cases the court heard -- and it's a joyous and appropriate event to help bring the documentary to a close.

From Eyepop Productions, Ro*Co Films and Argot Pictures, The Freedom to Marry opens this Friday, March 3, in New York City at the Village East Cinema and next Friday, March 10, in the Los Angeles area at Laemmle's Monica Film Center. To see all currently scheduled playdates, with cities and theaters listed, click here.

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