VIDEO: Panel for ‘Limited Partnership’ doc featuring marriage movement pioneers

This spring, Freedom to Marry has been proud to serve as a Community Partner for screenings of Limited Partnership, a new documentary debuting tonight, June 15, on PBS. 

Limited Partnership tracks the 40-year journey of Tony Sullivan and Richard Adams, the first same-sex couple to file a federal lawsuit seeking the freedom to marry, back in the late 1970s. Tony and Richard were one of just a few couples issued marriage licenses in Boulder, Colorado by Clela Rorex, the local county clerk who decided there was no legal obstacle to her issuing licenses to all couples. Richard and Tony, an Australian citizen who met Richard while in the United States, filed the lawsuit seeking legal recognition of their marriage for the purpose of allowing Richard to sponsor Tony's green card to stay in the U.S. They lost several legal challenges, but their story stands as a powerful reminder of the long, long road to where we stand now in the campaign to win marriage for same-sex couples nationwide.

Last week, Tony Sullivan, Clela Rorex, director Thomas G. Miller, and Freedom to Marry founder and president Evan Wolfson, sat on a panel following an exclusive preview screening of the film, organized by Rocky Mountain PBS, Independent Lens, WNET, and NET. The panelists discussed the film, dove more deeply into Tony and Richard's love story, and explored how far we've come on the freedom to marry - and what's next. Watch the full hour-long panel below. 

Thomas G. Miller worked on the documentary for 14 years, providing an incredibly in-depth look into Tony and Richard's life together. He and co-producer Kirk Marcolina paint a beautiful, moving portrait of the couple's life together, tracking their 40 years of love and commitment through every twist and turn in their legal process seeking the freedom to marry and legal immigration status for Tony. 

Tony Sullivan commented on the uniqueness of this panel event last week. He said, "I just got very emotional at this screening, and I don't get very emotional about this. This is probably one of the last times I'll be watching this with an audience - and this has something to do with you, Evan. And really, I came apart in this screening, and I realized why: For the first time, someone who really knew and understood what the issue was about was sitting next to me, and so for the first time at a screening I had someone who I knew knew what we were going through."

Evan Wolfson explained the power of Limited Partnership during the panel:

"One of the chief engines of change has been people telling their stories - people being willing to share, let other people into their lives, risk disappointment and rejection in order to help other people rise. And Tom's film is such an extraordinarily effective example of that. It centers on the decency and strength and purity of commitment that Clela showed, and above all, the love story that Tony and Richard had, which was not an artificial story, and everybody can see it meticulously, beautifully, richly portrayed year after year after year thanks to Tony letting Tom into their lives at such painful moments. Throughout the storytelling, not only do we see their love, but we also see Tony's unfailing optimism: Tony's unfailing confidence that people can do better. That is what we a have all as a movement needed to bring to this - that we could believe that we could see a change, that other people could do better. Tony expressed that year after year, encounter after encounter, despite everything they were going through. That's why I think this film will so powerfully resonate, because it connects the love and the personal with what we need as people seeking a change." 

Freedom to Marry served as a Community Partner for several Limited Partnership screenings this spring, joined by First Person, GLAAD, Out4Immigration, Immigration Equality, and Asian Pride Project.

Don't miss the PBS debut of Limited Partnership tonight on PBS, June 15, at 10:00pm ET, and watch the panel discussion here: