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Gay rights: A ‘Non-Issue’?

By |2018-01-16T08:38:41-05:00December 11th, 2008|News|

by Jessica Carreras

Since the Nov. 4 election, California’s Proposition 8 has dominated news pages, columns, blogs and letters to the editor nationwide. Taking the short-lived rights of marriage from gay and lesbian Californians, Prop. 8 has divided Americans and caused protests and crimes.
Now, with the ordinance still to come before the state’s Supreme Court within the next year, Prop. 8 is already the springboard for a documentary.

“A Non-Issue,” set to begin filming in 2009, will follow Detroit-based philosopher, lecturer and professor Dr. John Corvino around the country as he speaks to groups and debates the great question of his debates: What’s morally wrong with homosexuality? From California through the Bible Belt to the nation’s capital, Corvino will speak about LGBT rights in the aftermath of an election that brought an anti-adoption ordinance, as well as three anti-gay marriage laws to the table.
Though Corvino and co-producer Mike Einheuser conceived the documentary some time ago as a feature-length film on Corvino’s lectures, the project took off with the Prop. 8 issue, which catapulted gay rights in America into the public spotlight.
“Prop. 8 and the aftermath of that is very much on people’s minds and will be for a while,” Corvino explained. “But also I think Prop. 8 crystallized a problem that we’ve had for some time, which is that a lot of the people who make movies, write books, are involved in media in various ways, often operate under the assumption that we’re past this (gay rights) issue. We’re, at least along the coasts, we’ve sort of moved on and people are OK with this now and it’s not really something we need to talk about and make a case for.”
For many, Corvino said, Prop. 8 shed light on the culture wars that disappeared from the minds of activists – but not from existence. “What Prop. 8, I think, showed is that even in California there were plenty of people who were not yet convinced of the equal dignity of our love, of our equal worth,” he added.
“A Non-Issue,” although not explicitly about Prop. 8, will highlight the fight for LGBT equality in America through the scope of Corvino’s work. And it will all be filmed during what is poised to become the gay rights push of a new generation; an era that echoes the Stonewall riots of the 1960s.
Camera crews will follow Corvino around the country, filming his debates and lectures on gay rights issues and capturing the essence of how Americans truly feel about them. “It’s more generally about making the case for gay equality to a larger society,” Corvino stressed. “A big part of that is going to be the work that I do as the gay moralist in the talks that I give all around the country.”
“The main purpose of the film is to shine a spotlight on the debate over gay equality,” he continued. “To sort of really look carefully at who’s involved in that debate, what’s motivating them, what are their concerns and to just follow that conversation closely.”
Corvino and the filmmakers, which also includes co-producer Robert Zimmer, Jr and co-producer/director Matthew Mishory, are hoping the documentary will reach a wider audience than just the LGBT film circuit. The movie, he said, is aimed to appeal to a mass market of consumers who don’t necessarily get the full picture of LGBT issues in a society where people are sheltered by their own social circles.
Many of those people, he said, are those who see the gay rights struggle as an issue that holds little significance in a society that, they believe, is generally accepting. “It has become easier and easier in society for people to surround themselves with like-minded people,” Corvino explained. “So we all end up somewhat isolated in that we talk to our friends and other people around us and they seem to agree with us on issues of importance…it becomes too easy for us to caricature the other side, so sort of say ‘those people over there, we know what they’re all about and we don’t need to talk to them.’ And so we stop talking to them.”
Indeed, Corvino admits that e-mails and questions to him often center around the idea that the discussion of gay equality is outdated – a myth debunked by the fact that over 50 percent of Californians voted to take away same-sex marriage rights. The need for debate is still out there, Corvino insists. And with “A Non-Issue,” he and the filmmakers hope to bring that truth to light.

About the Author:

Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.
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