Question One: The Battle for Same-Sex Marriage in America

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Question One: The Battle for Same-Sex Marriage in America

In 2009, Maine’s legislature and governor approved a new law granting equal marriage rights to same-sex couples in that state. Those newly won rights of gay and lesbian Mainers to marry their life partners were never realized, though, as Maine’s voters approved an initiative to repeal marriage equality.

The electoral campaign surrounding that initiative is the focus of the new documentary, Question One , which is being screened in the Memorial Union’s Lecture Bowl on Wednesday, March 21 as part of the Global Visions Film Series.

Unlike many documentaries about same-sex marriage, Question One does not detail the hardships faced by same-sex couples due to their inability to marry, although one campaign volunteer, Sarah Dowling, does discuss the difficulties created by the fact that she and her partner have no legal relationship to each other, although they each are legally related to the daughter they are raising together. Rather, the film focuses on the campaign itself and the people involved in it, both campaign leadership and volunteers.

If there is a central figure in the film, it is the reluctant campaign manager of the repeal campaign, Marc Mutty, who had been reassigned from his job with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Portland into the role of campaign’s chairman. His ambivalence flows from conflict with the national organizations brought into the campaign, in the form of the Schubert-Flint consulting firm, and with the obsessive and dishonest (“hyperbolic,” in Mutty’s words), if successful, focus of those consultants on using children to stir up fear and animosity, to drive people to the polls.

While the leaders of the anti-gay marriage campaign consistently disavowed attempts to make the campaign about the rights of gay people more generally, it becomes clear in interviews with Pastor Bob Emrich and volunteer Linda Seavey, that a driving force behind the campaign is resistance to including gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in the social fabric of American life.

The marriage conflicts that swept through Maine in 2009 are currently playing out among our neighbors in Minnesota. Whatever the result in Minnesota, or in Maine’s return to the ballot this fall, those broader questions about the role and status of LGBT citizens will continue to challenge us.

Jeffrey Langstraat Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology

Global Visions Film Series to continue 9th year on Tuesdays and Wednesday’s in the Memorial Union Lecture Bowl at UND

The Department of Anthropology’s popular Global Visions Film Series (GVFS) will bring an exciting array of films to the community of Grand Forks for the 9th consecutive year. The Global Visions Film Series presents films each month in the Memorial Union Lecture Bowl on the campus of the University of North Dakota. The series is currently the only venue in Grand Forks to view award-winning, nationally recognized independent films from a wide variety of contemporary film makers around the world. This fall, the series will bring nine films to UND. All films begin at 7 p.m.

This semester, Global Visions is partnering with the University of North Dakota’s Center for Human Rights and Genocide Studies in the presentation of the film Question One, screened on March 21. In addition, the series is assisting in supporting the upcoming exhibit of the Holocaust Memorial Museum’s exhibit “Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals: 1933-1945 in the UND Memorial Union on March 1 – 25th. We are also collaborating with the UND Era Bell Johnson Multicultural Center and the new Interim director Melika Carter.

All films in the Global Visions Film Series are award winning national and international films, whose cinematic acuity and artistic perspectives reveal the realities of daily life from cross-cultural perspectives, exposing the unity and disparity of the human condition around the world.

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