Tying The Knot

The sad fact is that this comprehensive and compassionate documentary about the hottest of the "hot-button" topics — gay marriage — probably won't change one's mind; those who opposes granting basic civil rights to a minority group need something far more potent than a movie to adjust their attitudes. Everyone else, however, will definitely want...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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The sad fact is that this comprehensive and compassionate documentary about the hottest of the "hot-button" topics — gay marriage — probably won't change one's mind; those who opposes granting basic civil rights to a minority group need something far more potent than a movie to adjust their attitudes. Everyone else, however, will definitely want to check out this important film; it gives a short, sharp overview of exactly what's at stake. As filmmaker Jim de Seve makes abundantly clear, legalizing same-sex marriage isn't a fad, nor is it a simple matter of gays wanting to act like straights. Rather it's an effort to lay claim to the 1,049 rights they're currently being denied under the Defense of Marriage Act, the bill quietly signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1996 that defines marriage as the union of male and female. In addition to the recent history of the gay-marriage struggle, de Seve offers two poignant case studies demonstrating what can happen to partners who aren't protected by the kinds of rights freely enjoyed by married heterosexual couples. Sam, a farmer in rural Oklahoma, had been with his lover, Earl, for 22 years when Earl died in 2002. Earl left Sam his ranch, but when news of Earl's death reached his estranged cousin, Betty Lou, she decided contest the will and lay claim to Earl's property. Without the kind of legal recourse that marriage would have afforded him, Sam now faces eviction from his home. De Seve also profiles the case of Tampa policewoman Mickie Mashburn who must fight the police pension board for the right to collect the benefits due to her lover, fellow officer Lois Marrero, after she's shot to death in a botched robbery. Opposing Mickie's claim is Lois's sister, Brenda; supporting Mickie is every cop interviewed by the board. Guess who wins? De Seve doesn't spend too much time presenting the opposing viewpoint — how long does it take to say "The Bible says it's wrong" and "Same-sex weddings will destroy the institution of marriage"? — but he does present several interesting counter arguments to the fallacies that marriage has never before been a political battle ground and that it's always been a holy sacrament based in the love shared by a man and woman. Journalist EJ Graff offers a particularly incisive precis of the history of marriage, which didn’t become a sacrament in the Catholic church until 1215, and explains how feudal weddings were never about love, but property. Such romantic ideas are a fairly recent notion, just one of the myriad changes undergone by this supposedly unchanging institution. Undoubtedly it won't be the last.

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  • Released: 2004
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: The sad fact is that this comprehensive and compassionate documentary about the hottest of the "hot-button" topics — gay marriage — probably won't change one's mind; those who opposes granting basic civil rights to a minority group need something… (more)

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