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Photograph by Marilyn Humphries UNCLEAR ON THE CONCEPT: Massachusetts protesters find it hard to accept the future of marital relations in 'Saving Marriage.'

Pride and Prejudice

'Saving Marriage': Why should heterosexuals be the only ones who suffer?

By Richard von Busack

THIS ENDLESS election has spawned moments of cognitive dissonance unexperienced outside a peyote ritual. Certainly the battle over Prop. 8 has been the strangest. Let me get this straight, Knights of Columbus: Instead of spending your apparently bottomless treasury on charity and mutual aid, you've financed one of the most massive political media buys in the history of the world. Your message: Children will be taught all about gay marriage in schools if Prop. 8 doesn't pass. Has it perhaps occurred to your organization that children's minds are usually elsewhere during school, but that they're rabid TV watchers? It's like selling Ronald McDonald an hour of prime time to prevent children from learning about cheeseburgers. Don't want to seem ungrateful. I've been a summer-long fan of the "King and King" spot with the Massachusetts mother examining the evil children's book: shock, sadness and helpless dismay play on her handsome features, one at a time, in easy delineated succession, as if each emotion had its own zip code. It's real Gish-era silent-movie acting. Maybe it just seems that way because I always zap the sound. Mike Roth and John Henning's documentary Saving Marriage describes the years-long struggle over gay rights in Massachusetts, beginning with a court ruling allowing marriages. Kris Mineau of the anti–gay marriage Massachusetts Family Council here claims that the day gay marriage was approved was as black a day for him as the day JFK was shot. Coming from a Massachusetts man, this is true statement of tragedy. Conservative forces sounded the alarm, bringing in out-of-state protesters to fill the street. And the state Legislature voted on whether or not a constitutional convention should be held to overrule the judges. At the podium at the state capitol, Jarrett Barrios told how he couldn't get his child's diagnosis at the hospital because his life partner's surname was different: "I thought my son could die ... while I was fighting with a nurse over whether I was his father or not." We hear the choke in a pastor's voice as she conducts the first legal gay marriage in Boston: "And now by the power granted to me by the commonwealth of Massachusetts ..."

As political documentary, Saving Marriage reminds us that the struggle never stops. However, it's interesting to see that some legislators from conservative districts went out on a limb to support gay couples and then were surprised to find their constituents behind them. From seeing the supporters and the opponents here, one notes that those who want the ban against gay marriage are growing fewer, older and gloomier, while the ones who want this right are growing more numerous and stronger. The filmmakers contrast the Bay State groundswell with the small picture through vignettes of gay couples. The story of the affianced lesbians Becky Crane and Kat Cambra takes in both sides: some tears over a letter from a close relative rejecting a wedding invitation and the big day itself. Cambra's dad, Charles, tells the cameras something big-hearted: "Every father dreams of walking their daughter down the aisle. I was lucky. I got two."

Movie TimesSAVING MARRIAGE (PG-13; 90 min.), a documentary by John Henning and Mike Roth, opens Oct. 31 at Camera 3 in San Jose.

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