Inspired by Utah marriages, filmmaker aims to document love across America

EDITORS' NOTE: This post was updated on April 11, adding a new video by D'Arcy featuring Seth and Michael, the first same-sex couple to marry in Utah. Watch the video below, and HERE.

In the days following December 20, 2013 - the day when a federal judge struck down anti-marriage laws in Utah and established the freedom to marry immediately in the Beehive State - the photos and videos from that day captured an energy that the marriage movement had not seen in a long time. This day and these marriages represented such great hope for same-sex couples across the country, who saw that even in Utah, a traditionally deep red state, fair-minded Americans were coming to the conclusion that it's time for the freedom to marry.

One of the artists documenting that first day was D'Arcy Benincosa, a photographer and filmmaker based in Salt Lake City. Her video, set to "Same Love" by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, conveyed all of the hope and joy that arrived in Utah when justice was, at last, within reach.

The project inspired D'Arcy to expand the scope of her work, committing to a long-gestating idea about producing a feature-length documentary about the freedom to marry across the United States. She's currently raising money for the film on Indie Gogo. Through the film, and along the way through moving 3-4 minute video profiles of gay and lesbian couples and their families, D'Arcy is providing such beautiful insight into the people and families behind these laws. Her work is showing who is impacted by anti-gay laws - as well as the people whose lives are dramatically improved when they have the freedom to marry the person they love.

Here, Freedom to Marry sat down with D'Arcy Benincosa to discuss her project, her motivation, and why it's so important to document love stories like these. Watch that initial video, and read the interview:

Q: Where were you on the first day of the freedom to marry in Utah?

That day, on December 20, I was driving home from a photography session when I heard on the radio that marriage for same-sex couples had been approved and that marriages were being performed in the Salt Lake City courthouse that very minute. I didn't believe it! When the newscaster explained that couples were getting married at the courthouse, I made a U-turn and headed to the court house.

I wanted to be able to be on hand to provide these couples with some beautiful photos of their marriages. But that night, after capturing footage all day, I went home and started editing it all together into a video. I got permission from Ryan Lewis to use the song 'Same Love,' and it was shared around throughout that next week.

That video was really the catalyst for my current project of documenting gay and lesbian couples on video. For the past two years, I've been slowly gathering the love stories of gay couples across America - but I wasn't sure how the world would be able to view the stories. I'd been storing them up, and now is the time to heighten the effort and document this wide-scale and remarkable story of change, in real time, as it's happening.

Q: Why is it so important to share these stories of same-sex couples and their families?

A culture is made up of stories passed from one generation to the next. The foundation of the way we define our lives is expressed through stories told in movies, through social media, on the news media, and books written at a given time.

But our history is severely lacking in the documentation and validation of these love stories. They have been hidden and shamed for so much of history - now it's time to make a shift in the powerful love stories that we tell each other, and they need to include all of the love stories. Growing up, I never read a story about gay love. I never saw a movie with a lesbian relationship. It was never a part of my day to day life, and thus, it was different. But I want my children and my children's children to read stories of two mommies, to watch a movie based around the lives of a gay couple, and to never think twice about it.

It's time to make a change in the stories we can pass on about the LGBT community, and this project is part of that.

Q: What do you hope viewers take away from your project?

With these little love stories, I want to promote and foster a deeper understanding of the LGBT community. I want to tell the stories in the simple ways that society has failed to tell them. They seek to ask the question "Put yourself in their shoes, and how would you feel?"

"These love stories ask you to put yourself in the shoes of those interviewed and walk a mile."

These love stories are about men and men who love each other and have children together. They're about partners, together for multiple years who are unable to enter the hospital room of their partners. They're about children with two moms who deserve all the safety and security and love and acceptance as their friend down the street.

These love stories ask you to put yourself in the shoes of those interviewed and walk a mile. They beg you to believe in love, to believe in the good of people, to believe that we are all connected. They seek to tell the generations who are coming of age in this world that above all, and no matter what, it is safe to be who you are meant to be.

Q: Why set out on this project right now?

I've often asked myself, "Who are you to be telling the stories of the LGBT community? You're a straight, white woman of privilege. What could you possibly add to this dialogue?"

The answer is simple: Because I care. I care about the human beings around me who are treated unfairly. I care, I will always care, and you should care, too. We should all care when rights are denied to any one group of people.

I truly believe that all states in the country will allow same-sex couples to marry in the next year or two. And while the world is shifting toward supporting this, there has yet to be a documentary about the actual people getting married. Following the unfolding of these stories and marriages as state after states approves marriage equality will be an epic adventure - one of the most important moments in our country's history. These stories need to be told. The thing that connects us to each other, regardless of our differences, is our personal story - our lives. They are fleeting. They are precious. And they are worthy of being documented.

Learn more about Where All The Stories Are Love Stories and D'Arcy here