Saving Marriage

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Equally effective as a human interest story and political thriller, Mike Roth and John Henning's documentary details the two-year struggle to legalize same-sex marriage in Massachusetts. While unashamedly partisan in its approach, "Saving Marriage" delivers a compelling and moving account that is all too timely considering the debates about the issue being conducted on both the state and national levels.

The film depicts the chain of events that occurred during the two years after the Massachusetts Supreme Court declared the state ban on marriage to be unconstitutional in 2003. Even while gays and lesbians breathlessly celebrated the decision and immediately began engaging in newly legal marriages, political opponents, led by Gov. Mitt Romney, began campaigning for a state constitutional amendment that would define marriage as strictly between a man and a woman.

The filmmakers provide screen time to several opponents of the new law, such as Kris Mineau, the president of something called the Massachusetts Family Institute, who declares, "Same sex marriage degrades the value of my marriage," and Shirley Owen-Hicks, a black legislator who says that she would stand up for civil rights for gays and lesbians if they were "jailed or beaten."

But Roth and Henning's hearts clearly are with such figures as Becky and Kat, a lesbian couple who decide to make their relationship permanent; Arline Isaacson, a lobbyist who has devoted her career to furthering gay and lesbian issues; and Carl Sciortino, a 25-year-old openly gay politician trying to unseat a 14-year incumbent state representative who favors the constitutional amendment.

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