The Freedom to Marry

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
The Freedom to Marry Movie Poster Image
Well-crafted documentary about quest for marriage equality.
  • NR
  • 2017
  • 86 minutes

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Love is universal, as is the desire to commit to your partner and get married. Perseverance pays off.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Evan Wolfson is dogged, tireless, and fierce, spending decades in the pursuit of equality. 

Violence

Several scenes show people protesting; in some cases, they get into heated arguments and use hateful language. 

Sex
Language

Infrequent swearing includes variations of "s--t" and "f--k."

Consumerism

Many scenes show people hard at work on Mac laptops. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Social drinking by adults.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Freedom to Marry is a documentary about the decades-long pursuit of marriage equality in the United States, based on belief that same-sex partners should have the same legal right to get married as heterosexual couples. The movement's driving force is Evan Wolfson, whose focus and perseverance helped take the issue to the Supreme Court, where a landmark decision was made in 2015. There's very little swearing (though you can expect a couple of uses of "f--k" and "s--t") and almost no drinking. But there is discussion of/reference to sexual orientation, as well as some heated exchanges at protests and and detailed discussions about the law and legal language, so the nuances may be lost on younger viewers.

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What's the story?

THE FREEDOM TO MARRY follows the United States' LGBTQ community's fight for marriage equality, based on the position that committed, loving gay couples should have the same legal foundation and rights as those in serious heterosexual relationships. This fight was led by Evan Wolfson, who spent decades pursuing legal recognition for same-sex marriage -- work that led to the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark ruling in 2015 that upheld the idea that marriage isn't limited to a union between one man and one woman. This well-made documentary traces the arc of acceptance of homosexuality in American society, along with Wolfson's dogged pursuit of his goal.

Is it any good?

With a mix of interviews and news footage, director Eddie Rosenstein gives audiences an immersive, empathetic peek at history in the making. He also shows the struggle during the days leading up the fateful 2015 Supreme Court decision, painstakingly tracing the many steps that led to the monumental win for advocates of same-sex marriage.

Successful documentaries illuminate not just the scope of large-scale societal moments but also detail the journey and illuminate the cast of characters who helped make history. The Freedom to Marry accepts this challenge and runs with it. It beautifully humanizes the movement's fighters -- particularly Wolfson, who devised the core strategy and doggedly saw it through for decades, and attorney Mary Bonauto, as well as the court case plaintiffs, who'd long taken up the battle for equality despite unending opposition.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Parents can talk about The Freedom to Marry's messages about love and marriage. Do you agree? Why or why not?

  • Do you need to agree with the film's position in order to enjoy it?

  • How does Evan Wolfson demonstrate perseverance? Why is that an important character strength?

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