Director Eddie Rosenstein's documentary Freedom to Marry chronicles the history of the same-sex marriage movement and profiles prime strategists Evan Wolfson and Mary Banauto, among other leaders. Beginning with one hundred two days before the Supreme Court arguments and counting down as that crucial day approaches, the film jumps back to 1986 to explain the changes over thirty-two years.
Though small steps forward were sometimes met with reactionary backlash, those for legalization persevered with an understanding of the ways universal values, notably love and marriage, move people to change in important ways. The personal is political and respectful dialogue triumphs. Along the way, the political decisions offer a road map of the evolution of this, and potentially many other, social issues.
Opponents speak and argue, news clips register changes over time and from state to state, individuals express their perspectives, and the joy of the same-sex couples comes through powerfully and movingly. So do Wolfson's mother Joan and his father Jerry, as they describe Evan's commitment to fairness. The documentary doesn't break new ground for those of us who have followed events from Hawaii in 1990 to the first 2004 legal marriage to Supreme Court argument day, August 28, 2015. It does select well from the myriad of issues, including the need for legal marriages in one state to be recognized in states denying legality.
Rosenstein moves the 86-minute film along efficiently with plaintiffs in the Supreme Court case and those opposed presenting arguments in candid as well as public arenas. Even knowing the Court's ruling, suspense builds since the principals didn't know and register their anxiety along with their determination. The decision not to use a voiceover narrator works well here since the advocates are articulate as well as passionate.
Freedom to Marry screens at Webster University's Winifred Moore auditorium Saturday, April 15 and Sunday, April 16, at 7:30 each evening.