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Tying the Knot
Tying the Knot
Actors: Bob Barr, Mary Bonauto, Brian Brown, Martin Bubbly, Rev. Pat Bumgardner
Director: Jim de Sève
Genres: Documentary
UR     2005     1hr 21min

Extremely relevant, highly entertaining and utterly humanist, the critically-acclaimed film festival favorite TYING THE KNOT poignantly explores one of today's hottest issues, the ferocious political battle in the US betwe...  more »

     
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Movie Details

Actors: Bob Barr, Mary Bonauto, Brian Brown, Martin Bubbly, Rev. Pat Bumgardner
Director: Jim de Sève
Creators: Jim de Sève, Anna Gavanas, Joshua Koffman, Justin Tan, Kian T. Jong, Matthew Lavine, Matthew Wilson Pond
Genres: Documentary
Sub-Genres: Gay & Lesbian, Gay & Lesbian, Politics
Studio: NEW VIDEO GROUP
Format: DVD - Color - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 05/31/2005
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 1hr 21min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Strong documentary
Jeffery Mingo | Homewood, IL USA | 05/04/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Gay marriage is not a pie-in-the-sky issue. This film shows 2 real-life examples of couples that would have benefited from having their relationship realized. One woman's wife died serving as a policewoman. Because there was no gay marriage, the widow got nothing when the deceased's greedy relatives stepped in. In the second example, a man was going to lose his farm because the property was only in the deceased husband's name. Even though the deceased's sons think of the man as their second father, creditors took away horses and all other items.
Additionally, this documentary shows academics detailing the history of marriage. They go into its contractual and sexist background. But they also point to the fact that "love marriages" are only a creation of the past two centuries. I actually wish the movie would have touched upon pre-colonial, non-European cultures where such unions were accepted.
Thirdly, this film shows two members of the Congressional Black Caucus, John Lewis and Maxine Waters, defending gay marriage and standing against DOMA on the House Floor. This sequence goes against the ludicrous presentation in the disgusting "Gay Rights, Special Rights" where that film implies that (straight) people of color don't support gay rights. Barney Frank once said the CBC is more supportive of gays than any other congressional caucus. This film shows that visually.
This film would be perfect for gay male and lesbian couples to show to individuals of all sexual orientations. I wish the DVD had foriegn language subtitles, however."
"If you don't like same-sex marriage, don't have one."
M. J Leonard | Silver Lake, Los Angeles, CA United States | 06/02/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I wish Jim de Sève's Tying the Knot could be shown on primetime network television because this film really puts a human face on the same sex marriage debate. Whether you are for, or against same sex marriage, this film is required watching as it does terrific job of presenting, in a rational, common sense way, the reasons why such unions have become so highly galvanizing in the United States.

As gay marriage steadily becomes legal in some European countries (Holland, Belgium and shortly in Spain), and also in Canada, the U.S. seems ever more determined to forbid it. It is a serious issue for gays, for whom no will, beneficiary document or city or state civil union protection guarantees the 1,138 federal rights the documentary asserts are granted straight married couples.

Tying the Knot effectively lays out the movement's steps forward and setbacks, and effectively sets the issue of marriage in a cleverly drawn historical and cultural context. But the movie also gives a heart-rending account of two people who have been caught up in the inequities of marriage law, who have lost their life partners, and have suffered terrible economic and emotional consequences as a result.

In Florida, the union of two police officers was obviously accepted; Mickie Mashburn and Lois Marrero had been a couple for a decade and were well-liked by both friends and colleagues. Home movies from 1991 show a religious ceremony uniting the lesbians, dressed in matching tuxedos. Yet when one was killed in 2001, the other was afforded spousal burial honors but denied spousal pension benefits. After Two Tampa pension hearings, Mickie is denied the benefits

Even worse is the case of Sam, an Oklahoma rancher whose partner of 23 years, Earl, died, leaving him everything. But Sam was denied the ranch they shared that was specifically bequeathed to him.

The case rested on a technicality, a missing third signature; a self-seeking cousin was allowed to claim the property and then approach Sam for the back rent. It makes those in same-sex relationships both angry and paranoid - anger that this type of injustice is happening and also paranoid of landing in this type of situation.

De Sève interweaves Mickie and Sam's ordeals with the push for same-sex marriage across the nation along with archival footage, one of which is an attempt of a to overturn a New York state ban way back in 1971. There's also footage of couples lining up at county registrar offices to obtain marriage licenses in New York and Los Angeles

Much of the Tying the Knot concentrates on the landmark Massachusetts decision to award marriage rights to same-sex couples, but the film also shows that there's a long way to go - for example, there's no federal immigration rights available to bi-national gay couples, and even Massachusetts couples are prohibited from filing federal joint income tax returns.

Tying the Knot is an important film that effectively challenges an institution that social conservatives view as immutable and unchanging. Historian E.J. Graff takes us on a very sensible journey through the history of marriage and shows us how economics, not love, determined marriage for thousands of years.

This is a paradoxical, and commanding film, which delves beneath preconceived prejudices to explore what the institution of marriage really means within the context of today's society. Unfortunately, it also shows that bigotry and intolerance is rife, and that in the United States, full equality for same sex couples still has a long way to go. Mike Leonard June 05.
"
An Important Documentary
James Morris | Jackson Heights, NY United States | 12/06/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"As a gay man living in New York who is out in all aspects of my life, I tend to mistakenly think of myself as having all the rights I really need. For that reason, sometimes I forget (and I admit I haven't thought enough about) the very real reasons why this issue is so important. There are over 1,000 Federal rights and privileges that straight married people have that gay couples are denied because of the legal invisibility of their unions.

This film powerfully and poignantly underscores why gay marriage is such an important issue. The film was entertaining, informative, gripping and enraging all at the same time. Unlike many small independent films, the DVD issue contains many extras that made the whole package even more worthwhile.

I strongly recommend this film."
Powerful documentary
Anyechka | Rensselaer, NY United States | 02/27/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This wonderful documentary takes us beyond the headlines and rhetoric and into the actual lives of the people who are affected by the debate over gay marriage. Too often people seem to forget that behind any issue are the lives of real human beings, who are no different from you or I. The stories of Mickie and Sam are really shocking--it's hard to believe that in this day and age, in this part of the world, people could be denied such fundamental civil and human rights just because of their sexual orientation. Mickie and her wife of ten years, Lois, were Tampa police officers who were warmly accepted by their colleagues, friends, and relatives, yet after Lois was killed in the line of duty, Mickie was denied Lois's pension because of some greedy relatives, and was then forced to pay for the massive attorney's fees even after losing her appeal. Sam and Earl had been married for over two decades and were raising the three sons from Sam's first marriage together, yet after Earl died, a band of bloodthirsty cousins similarly went after Sam. Earl had left everything to him in his will, yet because of a technical error, they got the courts to overturn Earl's final wishes and put Sam in dire jeopardy of being thrown out of his house. These two men had built their Oklahoma farm up from scratch, and because of these cousins who popped out of the woodwork after Earl's death, Sam was being harassed in so many ways (such as a suspicious fire at a house he rented for extra money and a mysterious woman buying the burial plot next to Earl the very day after his death), and also had to start selling his beloved horses to make ends meet. The cousins meanwhile had said they would sell the farm if they got it. These two stories clearly illustrate just how having their marriages recognised by the state would have helped the surviving spouses immensely. Just having a civil union would not cut it; full marriage would have granted them over a thousand basic rights and privileges that straight couples take for granted.

Throughout the film, we also get the history of marriage and see examples of gay marriage in Canada and Holland. It's shocking how the U.S. lags behind at least 24 other nation-states in regards to such a basic human right as gay marriage. The attitude of not just tolerance but acceptance in Holland and Canada is a far cry from the raging debate in the U.S. People who talk about "the defense of marriage" and the definition of marriage being a man and a woman act as though marriage is some monolithic institution that has been the same for the entirety of recorded history, when in actual fact it's only been in the last 200 years or so (at least in the West) that it's become about love instead of economic or social interests. (Although I do wish there had been some historical discussion about the acceptance of same-sex relationships in past societies, such as Greece and Rome.) Marriage was not even considered a sacrament by the Catholic Church until 1215. And the same rhetoric that opponents apply to gay marriage was once not that long ago used to argue against divorce, interracial marriage, birth control (even for a married couple), and women being equal partners in marriage instead of completely subordinate to a husband. In 1948 90% of the American public thought interracial marriage was wrong too and that it was immoral and would destroy the foundations of society, for example. It's also pointed out that the Constitution has only been amended 17 times since the Bill of Rights was ratified, and that if an amendment to define marriage as only between a man and a woman were to pass, it would be the very first time that an amendment would discriminate against a segment of the population and take away their rights, in lieu of granting more rights to a group of people (such as allowing women and African-Americans the right to vote) or to put more checks and balances on the government (such as changing the procedure to elect the president or directly electing Senators). It also seems baffling how the neo-cons are so against these people who want more than anything to be married, in a culture where divorce rates are higher than ever, the marriage age is rising, and a lot of people are just serially cohabiting instead of making their commitment permanent. For people who throw the phrase "family values" around so frequently, they sure don't practise what they preach about valuing marriage and commited families if those familes happen to not fit into their narrow definition of what a real family is. This film also has some conservative commentators who support gay marriage, such as Andrew Sullivan of the New Republic magazine, and Jeff Cook of the Log Cabin Republicans, showing that, contrary to popular belief, this isn't just something that people on the political left are fighting for.

Extras include outtakes from Boston, a Q&A session with director Jim de Sève, audio commentary by Mr. de Sève and Evan Wolfson, a panel discussion, a brief update on Sam and Mickie (and what one can do to help these poor people), a trailer, filmmaker bios, a resource guide, information on the company Docurama, and a catalog of their other documentaries (some with trailers). Overall, it's a great resource for showing people that this is an issue directly affecting the lives of real human beings, not just some political battle where real people are reduced to statistics or soundbytes. Unfortunately, as wonderful, powerful, and well-made as this film is, the people who most need to see it will probably refuse to see it, or won't change their opinion on the issue, although there are always exceptions, such as Rep. Bob Barr (R-Georgia), who actually somewhat softened his former disgust for and opposition to just the idea of gay marriage."