Center Hosts Question One’s East Coast Premiere
by Andy Cataldo
On Friday, October 19, mere hours before Chelsea Clearview’s midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, a coalition of marriage equality activists gathered for the East Coast premiere of Question One, a film about Maine’s road to marriage equality through 2009.
Attendees “shivered with anticipation” of the upcoming election, during which equality would be voted on by the state for a second time. Now knowing the outcome of this month’s pro-marriage equality vote solidifies Question One as an historic account of the personal struggles of marriage supporters including facing fear and intolerance from the opposition.
The event, co-hosted by Gay City News and the Center’s Cultural Programs Department, began with remarks from US Congressman Jerrold Nadler, sponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act, which is designed to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) signed by Bill Clinton in 1996. He spoke of the national climate with respect to marriage equality, how it has become less an issue of “if” but rather of “when.”
The film’s directors Joe Fox and James Nubile were also in attendance. Joe spoke about the filmmaking process in general, comparing it to the five stages of grief: anger, denial, bargaining, depression and acceptance. This analogy particularly rings true when thinking of the citizens of Maine who experienced the joy and relief of a state legislature passing marriage equality then having to accept the loss of it after the 2009 ballot initiative at the center of Question One. Thankfully we now know that the grief has been replaced with joy and accomplishment, as the state voted on November 6 to pass same sex marriage.
The film began with an overview of how Question One became a ballot initiative in 2009: the state legislature passed marriage equality, followed quickly by the efforts of opposition led by religious groups petitioning for a ballot initiative to overturn the law in November 2009.
Viewers are introduced to key players from the Yes on 1 side working against marriage equality, including Linda Seavy, a campaign volunteer and canvasser who believes that gay marriage is not an issue of civil rights. She declares that she doesn’t hate “their people,” speaking of the other side. The film shows meetings of Yes on 1 in churches where preachers speak of the familiar, specious statistics about Dutch gay marriages that “last an average of 1.5 years and involve up to 8 extra partners per year.” The other recurring argument we hear on Yes on 1’s side is about the exposure of children in schools to curricula describing how gays have sex.
We also meet same-sex families, including Darlene Huntress, Grassroots Director of the No on 1 initiative and her partner, as well as Sarah Dowling, a volunteer who was present at the screening. She and her family – partner Linda and daughter Maya – attended the election night headquarters in 2009 to be together as a family when the results were announced.
The most surprising element of this story comes from Marc Mutty, co-chair of the Yes on 1 campaign. In interviews, it’s clear that he’s deeply conflicted with his position as well as envious of Frank Schubert, a political consultant hired by the campaign for his success in other state campaigns against gay marriage, for stealing the spotlight. Mutty spells out his own internal struggle, claiming to be doing what he’s told only because it is his job (he’s the Director of Public Affairs for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland) as well as his power struggle with handing authority over to Schubert. Mutty represents the first leak in the dam of opposition not just in Maine, but the nation as a whole, as Maryland, Washington and Minnesota also cast votes in favor of equality this month
While the larger story continued beyond the scope of this film on November 6, Question One remains a relevant profile of what each state must face along the country’s path to equality. For more information about Question One visit www.Q1-themovie.com.