Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

The Freedom to Marry

A joyful doc that's also serious history.

The Freedom to Marry

Grade: A-

Director: Eddie Rosenstein (Boatlift)

Cast: Evan Wolfson, Mary Bonauto

Rating: NR

Runtime: 1 h 26 min

by John DeSando

You might be tired of the LGBT hoopla over the last few years, but you might be curious about the history  of the movement that led to outlawing the banning of  gay marriages just last year, thanks to The Supreme Court. The Freedom to Marry is a first-rate doc about the activities leading up to that monumental decision.

Evan Wolfson occupies the prime spot in this comprehensive and accessible recounting of the struggle between liberal and conservative believers about gay marriage. The doc takes an almost neutral stance, letting supporters of the gay movement and the defense of traditional marriage duke it out. Because most of the shots are of supporters, the testimony of the opposition takes a starring role too, so necessary in any doc or debate on such an incendiary topic.

Director Eddie Rosenstein takes a moderate approach as he concentrates on the drama leading up to the SCOTUS decision rather than beating us up with the liberal agenda. As charismatic as Wolfson  is, Mary Bonauto, who argues the case in front of the Court, is cool and efficient, and of course successful.  One of the finest sequences shows her listening to the recorded trial and stopping the recording to comment on her testimony. Although she does not brag about her part in any way, her sheer competence comes out regardless.

If you’re a history buff, you will enjoy the accurate arc of success several years out. If you are a liberal who gets off on great movements like this, you will not be disappointed.  If you are a cinephile, you will delight in the doc craftsmanship integrating talking heads with historical footage for a complete film siding with the tide of humanitarian sympathy for freedom of expression characteristic of the U.S.A.  

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at

John DeSando holds a BA from Georgetown University and a Ph.D. in English from The University of Arizona. He served several universities as a professor, dean, and academic vice president. He has been producing and broadcasting as a film critic on It’s Movie Time and Cinema Classics for more than two decades. DeSando received the Los Angeles Press Club's first-place honors for national entertainment journalism.