I just got back from an advance screening of Saving Marriage, a stirring, illuminating, suspenseful, and inspirational documentary by Mike Roth and John Henning. Even for those who are familiar with the circumstances behind Massachusetts becoming the first state in America to legalize same-sex marriage and even though we now know the triumphant outcome, the film casts its journalistic net wide in order to tell the whole story—to capture the depth, the nuance, and the complexity behind this historic multi-year fight for equality. And I'm sure much of it will come as a surprise to you as it did to me.
Saving Marriage, certainly the most moving film I've seen this year, argues that the battle for gay marriage isn't really about marriage. It's about fundamental civil rights. Even for people like me, whose weariness of marriage as the cause célèbre of the gay community (primarily because I never did like the original institution itself in the first place), have come around to seeing this issue more as a symbol than anything else—albeit a powerful and necessary symbol that goes beyond acceptance, beyond mere tolerance, and that is all about preserving simple human dignity.
The film smartly follows gay and lesbian couples who refuse to settle for being second-class citizens; the people who vociferously oppose them; lobbyists who fight for a seat at the table; politicians who put their careers at stake or struggle with their conscience; and activists who pound the pavement to sway hearts and minds. What's most striking is that people—even legislators who fear losing reelection—can be swayed. That message, more than anything else, is cause for hope. And it's also a sign of the times.
Saving Marriage plays in San Francisco through October 16; it opens in limited runs in other cities starting October 17. Check out locations and dates here. GO GO GO. (By the way, bring tissues because you will cry and cry and cry some more.) Look: