A new video promotes the civil right of legal marriage for same-sex couples. Called "The Right to Marry," the timely video was produced by Partners Task Force for Gay & Lesbian Couples to prepare the gay and lesbian community for the national debate now taking place in the media, courts and state legislatures.
In the video, written and directed by Partners' Co-director Demian, nationally prominent gay and lesbian leaders spell out why this right is so important to the community, and what we can do to win and preserve it.
"Winning this civil right will only be possible if we organize quickly with the compelling facts fully at our command," said Demian. "The video presents these facts along with the personal stories that make this struggle so vital and compelling."
Although the video will be persuasive to a general audience, it is aimed squarely at the gay and lesbian community.
"While many in our community support the right to legal marriage, too few understand the magnitude of what's at stake," said Demian. "You can bet the radical right knows. In fact, same-sex marriage is lambasted in their latest anti-gay video."
Demian's video, "The Right to Marry," runs 72 minutes and features interviews with Rev. Mel White, well known from his "60 Minutes" appearance and his book "Stranger at the Gate"; Phyllis Burke, author of "Family Values: A lesbian mother's fight for her son"; Richard Mohr, author of "A More Perfect Union"; and Kevin Cathcart, executive director of the Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund.
The video also highlights some of the same-sex couples who have sued for legal marriage, with personal recollections from Faygele benMiriam, who sued Washington state in 1971, and Benjamin Cable-McCarthy, who along with partner Marcial Cable-McCarthy sued California in 1993.
There have been about 11 unsuccessful suits for legal marriage in the United States since 1971, but the current case in Hawaii has a very strong chance of success. The case and its implications are vividly described in the video by Susan Reardon, co-director of the Hawaii Equal Rights Marriage Project, and Evan Wolfson, co-counsel in the Hawaii suit and director of The Marriage Project at Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund.
Personal stories provide a backdrop for the discussion, including the multiple weddings of Frances Fuchs and her partner Gayle Remick, and the Unitarian church wedding and reflections of Jacqui Johnston and Natalie Hanson.
"The Right to Marry" is not a "balanced" report presenting both sides of the issue, according to Partners Co-director Steve Bryant.
"There is only one just side when it comes to civil rights," Bryant said. "It wasn't too long ago that couples of mixed race could not marry in many states. Years from now, the nation will look back in disbelief that a entire class of citizens was unfairly excluded from so fundamental a social institution."
"All of our Partners work over the last decade has pointed to this issue and this video project," says Demian. "It has long been clear to us that same-sex couples were subject to extensive discrimination -- not just from being identified as gay or lesbian, but because we are in same-sex relationships."
The extent of that discrimination was made clear by the national survey Partners conducted in 1990. Among the 1,266 couples responding, about 40 percent experienced discrimination in employment benefits and taxes, about 20 percent in insurance and membership, and about 13 percent in housing and credit or banking.
Bryant observed that domestic partner provisions redress a few of the inequities at select jobs and in scattered localities, but he called them "crumbs" compared to the whole marriage cake.
"Only legal marriage can correct the full range of discrimination that same-sex couples face over issues such as child custody, immigration for one's partner, or the right to claim a partner's Social Security survivor benefits," Bryant said.
"The Right to Marry," two years in the making, was produced on a shoestring budget with the help of modest donations. Partners Task Force has advocated for same-sex couples since 1986 and was an early proponent of legal marriage.
The VHS (NTSC) stereo videotape costs US$29 (plus $3 postage) and is available only from Partners Task Force, Box 9685, Seattle, WA 98109; 206-935-1206. Checks, Visa or MasterCard are accepted.
A special 28-minute version of the video is available to air at no cost on public-access cable television stations. Partners is seeking volunteers to arrange for airings on their local public-access channels. Write or e-mail Partners at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
For more information about the video and equal marriage rights, contact Partners or browse its World Wide Web site: http://www.eskimo.com/~demian/partners.html.
The Partners site also has a list of legal marriage court cases waged by same-sex couples, a current list of states with laws designed to preempt recognition of same-sex marriage, results of marriage opinion surveys, and many essays on legal marriage.
The Partners Web site is dedicated to the needs of same-sex couples, and features a wide variety of free information on nearly 100 pages of text, images and sound files. Included is a "Couples Gallery" of photographic portraits of committed couples.