I Now Pronounce You Husband & Husband (USA, 20 min)
Directed by: Stephanie Donnelly
After President Bush attempted to pass an amendment banning gay marriage in 2004, same-sex wedding ceremonies were performed in California. This inspired Jason West, the mayor of New Paltz, NY to perform twenty-four same sex marriages. The event became a media sensation and led West to be criminally charged. This movie documents these couples’s struggles to earn the right be called husbands.
Review by Nicole Kristel
I Now Pronounce You Husband & Husband documents big news in a small town. In 2004 the town of New Paltz, New York made headlines with the performance of twenty-four same-sex weddings ceremonies. Jason West, who was mayor at the time, decided at the risk of being criminally charged to take a stand against the ban on homosexual marriages. Interviews from Jason West and two of the couples that were married at the ceremony provide the background to illuminate how this small town sent shockwaves across America.
Jason West is a rare breed of politician, young and full of optimism. Although West may appear naïve he is a man willing to go extreme lengths to stand up for what he believes is right. Before entering into the actions that led up to the event, West was apprised of all the consequences that could arise from performing the ceremony including his arrest and the subsequent legal charges. Not only did he realize the risk of his acts but embraced them. The first marriage he performed was for his friend Billiam Van Roestenberg whose role evolved from a fiancé to a political activist. Although since the wedding ceremonies he and his partner have split, he remains one of the faces of this radical moment. His relationship was sacrificed in the face of political revolution, something he neither takes lightly nor regrets.
The fourth couple to be married that day was Jay Blotcher and Brooke Garrett. Unwittingly Jay and Brooke became the face of the ceremonies since they were the first couple to kiss. Brooke who usually stands in the background of Jay’s more political nature, unleashed his inner activist and pictures of him blowing kisses to the crowd graced the cover of hundreds of newspapers. The love and dedication the two have for each other is hard to ignore and solidifies the necessity of legalizing same-sex marriage. The two joke about how they are wedding collectors, as they have gone around the country getting any and every form of legal recognition as a couple as they can, but a tragic turn of events caused them to realize just how important legally being married means.
Whether they are still together or not, the magnitude of these 24 wedding ceremonies are not to be overlooked. Stephanie Donnelly’s documentary gives a quick look at the struggles these couples went through to be called husband and husband.