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Director’s first major film targets marriage debate

By |2018-01-16T12:28:23-05:00October 12th, 2006|News|

“Saving Marriage”
A Reel Pride Engagement
10:30 a.m. Oct. 15
Main Art Theatre, Royal Oak
Join filmmaker Mike Roth for a post-film discussion at 1:15 p.m.

When filmmaker Mike Roth began shooting “Saving Marriage,” a two-year film project, all he and other crewmembers had was camera equipment and a few credit cards. “But when the credit cards got maxed out, the only thing we had left was our determination to keep moving forward,” says Roth, a former news cameraman for WILX-TV (an NBC affiliate in Lansing). Roth’s next obstacle: finding distribution for his and his filming partner John Henning’s first major project that examines the gay and lesbian marriage debate.

On the reason for the documentary

In February 2004, I was in Africa, of all places, working on “The Amazing Race.” I checked my e-mail one day and there was a message from John saying, “You won’t believe what’s happening over here! I’m watching these debates in Massachusetts over gay marriage and it is just riveting! I think we finally found our documentary project.”

On the first day of shooting

When I walked into the State Capitol in Boston that first day and filmed for 18 hours straight, I could feel a passion in the thousands of people around me that I never felt just by watching news reports. For the first time, I started to understand that being able to get married was more than just being able to file joint taxes and share health insurance. And as my understanding of the issue grew, so did my determination to do it justice with our film.

On the film’s mass appeal

The main storyline involves the struggle to defeat an anti-gay amendment in Massachusetts, but the way the characters go about doing that is a blueprint for what we need to do in Michigan. Yes, Michigan does already have an anti-gay marriage amendment on the books, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be repealed some day. Will it be next year? No. But Massachusetts didn’t get to the place it is now in … overnight. It took a decade of grass roots activism to start getting people used to the idea of gay marriage.

On the movie’s message

I think it’s important that gay and lesbian people in Michigan realize that the right to marry the partner of your choice is a fight we cannot give up. Think about a gay kid who might just be coming out of the closet. Coming out used to be such a traumatic experience for everyone because it meant that we’d be giving up so many things that we were taught to look forward to. I don’t want to suggest that coming out will ever be easy, but in a world where gay marriage exists, a teen struggling with his homosexuality will have a much easier time adjusting if he can just shrug his shoulders and think, “OK, I guess I’ll be marrying a man instead of a woman.”

About the Author:

Chris Azzopardi
As editor of Q Syndicate, the international LGBTQ wire service, Chris Azzopardi has interviewed a multitude of superstars, including Cher, Meryl Streep, Mariah Carey and Beyoncé. His work has also appeared in GQ, Vanity Fair and Billboard. Reach him via Twitter @chrisazzopardi.