Bridegroom, a documentary about same-sex marriage and the rights they carry, gives such a passionately personal look into the ongoing debate over the legal rights of homosexual couples. While the film is a documentary about the connection between Shane Bitney Crone and Tom Bridegroom, it also belies some of the deeper, less seen struggles that homosexual couples have in terms of hospital visitation rights. The couple faced several challenges within their family and also within society, until Bridegroom was killed in an accident. Ultimately, Bitney Crone was shut out of the funeral by Bridegroom’s family.
What started out as a short film on YouTube called It Could Happen to You released in 2012, went viral and Bitney Crone was contacted to make it into a feature film. I love this film, not only because of the tragically touching story of love, life, and the heart-wrenching tale of loss, but it gives us such a personal look into real life struggles that gay people still experience at large.
It brings back the ideologies of Edie Windsor and her wife Thea Spyer, who were lawfully married in Ontario, Canada in 2007. Spyer died in 2009, leaving behind her estate to Windsor. When Windsor tried to claim the federal estate tax exemption for surviving spouses, she was kept from doing so by Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which provided that the term “spouse” only applied to a marriage between a man and a woman. The IRS found that the exemption for Windsor and surviving spouses of same sex couples everywhere did not apply to same-sex marriages. Ultimately, they denied her claim. This turned into a lawsuit which was won in the Supreme Court earlier this year.
Bridegroom gives us another voice into this ongoing problem for same-sex couples and the rights to surviving spouses, even though the term “spouse” is now federally (in the United States) recognized for same-sex couples as well as heterosexual ones. The situation gradually gets better in the United States, and even so overseas in countries like New Zealand, the UK, and Australia. However, things are progressively terrifying in places like Russia and the United Arab Emirates, especially in Uganda, where an anti-homosexuality bill is being proposed to allow the death penalty to repeat offenders. There’s a truly wonderful documentary about the situation in Uganda titled “God Loves Uganda”, which by the title you wouldn’t surmise that it covers some of the hate-breeding that missionaries have embedded in Uganda to spur along the hate and violence.
While I’m confident, and the evidence shows the same, that a safe and fair world for the LGBTQ populace is going to happen, it’s a rather worrying and curious question of when. “When” is terrifying. You have to wonder if it’ll happen in our lifetime. Will I be able to see fair treatment in hospitals if I get married and my husband goes into a comatose state? Will I be allowed the decisions that heterosexual couples are afforded? I can’t be sure.
In the United States, it’s currently legal for 29 states to fire you for being gay, because apparently who you love affects the job that you do for that company. The problem is even worse for trans* people who can be fired for being trans* in 33 states. Luckily, it’s being brought to a vote to rule it as legally wrong, instead of just morally ludicrous. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (referred to as ENDA) could be pulled into a vote as early as next week. While this will be a huge step forward for gay rights (and gay couples’ rights in the workplace), why is this even necessary to begin with? Why should a company be able to fire you because of who you love?
It all pulls together, in my mind to the question of why should my rights be any different from the heterosexual couples next door? What is so distinctly different about us that I shouldn’t be entitled to the same things that they are? Logically, there’s not. Morally, there’s not. There’s not any reason that we should be denied surviving spouse rights, or the right to work at a job in 29 states if we identify as homosexual. Where is the justice in that? In a country (and at this point this is pointedly at the United States) that is based on the idea that every man is created equal, I, as well as many LGBTQ people, am left feeling with a very distinct idea of inequality.
This is largely due to fear, because people have a long history of fearing things that they don’t understand. Over time, the hate and the fear have added layers of fallacies that imply that being gay is a “choice”, like whether you go for one hairstyle or another. But as our planet wakes up from the reality that being gay is inborn and a part of who we are, they will see that denying rights on all fronts isn’t only legally wrong, it’s morally wrong. For the Bridegroom-Bitney Crone’s and the Windsor-Spyer’s of the world: there is hope, and there is a future.