An award-winning documentary about
an important battle in the struggle for marriage equality is coming to DVD this
“Church & State,” directed by Holly Tuckett and Kendall Wilcox, follows
the efforts of Utah activists to overturn the state’s 2004 “Amendment 3,”
which not only made same-sex marriage illegal under the state constitution but
effectively blocked future legislators from granting same-sex couples any legal
rights considered inherent to marriage – such as those affecting medical and
end-of-life decisions or rights of inheritance.
The law was challenged in 2013 by three same-sex couples who
filed a lawsuit (Kitchen vs.
Herbert) against the state. After the US District Court for the District of Utah found in favor
of the plaintiffs, the state appealed the decision all the way to the US Supreme
Court, which in 2014 declined to hear it – affirming the lower court’s finding
that the marriage ban was unconstitutional. A year later, SCOTUS did agree to
hear Obergefell v. Hodges, resulting in the affirmation of marriage equality as
the law of the land.
The film, described as “the improbable story of a brash, inexperienced gay activist
and a tiny Salt Lake City law firm that joined forces to topple Utah’s gay
marriage ban,” documents “the bumpy road to equality in Utah” while casting an
equal light on both the efforts of the Mormon church to wield it’s heavy
influence in state politics and the in-fighting of the LGBTQ community that came
close to derailing the entire process.
The documentary hit the festival circuit in 2018; it was the Winner of the Special Jury Award at the American Documentary Film Festival and Film Fund, and the Filmmaker Award at the International Filmmaker Festival of World Cinema, Nice.
In an interview with the Salt Lake Tribune, filmmaker Tuckett talked about being at the wedding reception of Salt Lake City entrepreneurs Derek Kitchen and Moudi Sbeity (one of the couples behind the lawsuit) when she decided the direction the documentary would take during a conversation with Kitchen’s grandmother.
“She said, ‘You’ve been following this. What made Derek want
to sue the state of Utah?’” Tuckett said.
Tuckett’s first thought was of Mark Lawrence, a controversial
LGBT activist who had agitated to overturn Amendment 3 but had been eclipsed in
the public eye as the legal battle moved forward; that, she said, was when “I
knew I had to tell Mark’s story.”
James Huntsman, the film’s producer, agreed, saying, “We had
to pick a character to follow this journey through… [Lawrence is] the most
interesting character, and the most controversial one.”
“Church and State” is already available VOD on the usual platforms, but it drops on DVD January 21.
You can watch the trailer below.
Published at Sat, 18 Jan 2020 21:03:02 +0000