Coming to VOD today, Tuesday, May 31: THE STATE OF MARRIAGE
Jeff Kaufman’s chronicle of the legal origins of marriage equality made its debut at Provincetown last year. Other screenings have included Brattleboro, Santa Fe, GlobeDocs, and the Austin LGBT fests.
While same-sex marriage legalization became part of the national debate over the past few election cycles, the battle for this civil right has been waged over long decades. Kaufman’s film recognizes the importance of the precedent set in Vermont as a pivotal part of the story, and focuses on the significant efforts made by a trio of female attorneys to bring marriage quality to that state. Galvanized by a child custody case in the early 1990s involving the surviving lesbian partner of a woman who was killed in a car accident, small-town Vermont lawyers Susan Murray and Beth Robinson sought out support for protections for other same-sex couples. After they found a partner in Mary Bonauto, a Boston-based civil rights advocate, they laid the groundwork to argue for the constitutionality of same-sex marriage, adopting a strategy that humanized the issue and found parallels in the once-banned practice of interracial marriage. Even after they found partial victories – legalized civil unions rather than full marriage – they continued their struggle, causing rifts between those who felt they were overreaching and others who were willing to accept the compromise. While the larger story is by now well-known, and Kaufman’s approach ultimately fairly conventional, the film succeeds in presenting a detailed look at the hard-fought grassroots campaign that enabled the freedoms that are enjoyed today.