New documentary follows the fight for marriage equality

ASU held a screening of "The Freedom to Marry" with campaign founder Evan Wolfson

The Arizona LGBT Bar Association and ASU's Sandra Day O'Conor College of Law screened “The Freedom to Marry” on the downtown Phoenix campus on Sept. 14, taking viewers on an emotional journey through the legalization of same-sex marriage.

The documentary, by director Eddie Rosenstein, chronicles the efforts of the Freedom to Marry campaign, the couples involved in the cases and their lawyer as they worked to gain approval for marriage equality from the public and prove the U.S. was ready to recognize same-sex marriage.

The campaign fought to obtain marriage equality in the U.S., and achieved that goal with the 2015 Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges.

Christopher Marohn, Professional Education Program Manager for ASU’s Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, said the documentary is very informative about laws and the legal process.

“The documentary follows (the cases) all the way through,” said Marohn, “It’s actually a really good look at how a case goes from state courts, to district courts, to the Supreme Court.”

Marohn said that even though the film is “a little slanted” in Freedom to Marry’s favor, it still offers opinions from people who opposed marriage equality and politicians who spoke out against Freedom to Marry, demonstrating "how you deal with places that wholly reject the idea of the legalization of gay marriage."

The documentary was a critical success, receiving multiple awards for documentary filmmaking at festivals across the country.

Greg Fay, a second year ASU law student who attended the event, said he was glad to see a film that offered insight to the fight for marriage equality.

“I thought it was an awesome film," Fay said. “It’s one of those films where I felt so grateful… that a filmmaker was there to capture these moments that are so historic.”

In a Q&A after the screening, Evan Wolfson, the founder and president of the Freedom to Marry campaign, said that before marriage equality was won in the courts, it had to be won “in the court of public opinion.” 

He said anyone can put their talents and energies towards a cause they believe in. 

“No one can do everything, so do something,” Wolfson said. 

Besides being the founder and president of Freedom to Marry, Wolfson is a Harvard Law alumnus and has been named one of the most influential people in the world by Time Magazine, and one of the most influential American lawyers by the National Law Journal.

Jessica Hernandez, the president of the Arizona LGBT Bar Association, said that even though everyone knows the outcome of the marriage equality ruling, the documentary was still suspenseful and emotional to watch.

“I got teary eyed at the end because they’re real stories,” Hernandez said. “It’s not just a landmark legal case; it’s lives that were impacted, and that are impacted, every day.”

Hernandez also said that anyone who wants to make a difference in their community can watch the documentary and learn from the tactics Freedom to Marry utilized. 

“Whatever thing out in the world that you want to see made better, you can take lessons from this movement and apply it," Hernandez said. 

“The Freedom to Marry” is available for download on Amazon Video, Google Play and iTunes.

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