By Robbie Medwed
The fight for nationwide marriage equality was far more organized and lasted far longer than you probably realize. Same-sex couples began fighting for equality in the immediate aftermath of the Stonewall riots in 1969, and a Minnesota couple even brought a case to the Supreme Court in 1972, when being gay was still considered a crime in many localities.
In 1983 a gay, Jewish Harvard Law School student named Evan Wolfson wrote his thesis on the right of lesbian and gay Americans to marry the people they love. Wolfson would later go on to argue in courtrooms across the country on behalf of gay and lesbian couples, and, in doing so, he became known as the founder of the modern fight for marriage equality.
Wolfson and the larger movement’s story are the focus of “The Freedom to Marry,” screening at this year’s Atlanta Jewish Film Festival. While the film has some incredible historical educational moments to bring everything into perspective, the bulk of the action takes place in the daily activities of the staff of Freedom to Marry, the advocacy agency headed by Wolfson during the buildup to the Supreme Court arguments and decision in 2015.
It won’t matter that you already know how the story ends (marriage equality won). The power of the story lies in the candid moments that take place behind the scenes and the sheer passion of all of those involved in the fight, especially the gay and lesbian couples and families themselves.
The movie gracefully personalizes and humanizes the real consequences so many people faced and serves as a powerful answer to the nation’s current political climate. “The Freedom to Marry” is a story worth telling, especially as a new round of attacks on the rights of LGBT people begins across the country.