After years of struggle, sacrifice and toil for gay and lesbian couples in America, the Supreme Court nationally legitimized/legalized same-sex marriage. Thus, it only seems natural that we as citizens, readers, and film-watchers alike address the relevance of said road to equality in film. In this episode, we’re spotlighting Thomas Miller’s 2014 documentary Limited Partnership, the award-winning film at countless festivals and a 2015 Official Selection at the one and only (you guessed it) Newport Beach Film Festival. Retrospectively, it traces the lives and subsequent struggle of partners Richard Adams and Tony Sullivan as they ventured forth in suing the U.S. government, pursuing equal treatment for same-sex couples in America.
Indeed, in 1975, Tony and Richard became one of the first same-sex couples to legally marry in the United States albeit through one state—Colorado, more specifically Boulder, Colorado. Richard, being Filipino-American, immediately filed a green card petition for his Australian husband Tony to prevent his deportation. However, Tony was denied the green card by the Immigration Naturalization Service saying that they had failed to adequately convey the legality of a marriage between, quote, “two faggots”. The narrative interweaves the past and the present, the supporters and the opposition, “Tony” and “Richard” the individuals and “Tony and Richard” the married couple. As the documentary seemingly conveys, the journey toward same-sex equality is one that inevitably traverses the heteronormative mentality inherent within the government, the media and, ultimately, the public. For within society, ‘homophobia’ regresses to become more than a fear but a genuine disregard for sexuality, for identity, and for that matter humanity. What is normativity if not for the individuals who purport its existence? At this point, you, the reader, have perhaps decided that discrimination in America has remained and will remain for a long time. In some ways, that’s true, no question, but Miller’s documentary presents a chronological progression of events and of societal perspectives from the 1970s to 2014, the film’s concluding year. You see amidst the seemingly insurmountable feats Tony and Richard had to confront or be confronted with, the barrage of patronization for them and their lifestyle, they remained a cohesive unit, a married couple, and as they so aptly put it a pair of “best friends”. Their story could not be more relevant today as it too serves as the pinnacle of inspiration for gay and lesbian couples around the world.
The Supreme Court’s recent revolutionary decision for marriage equality along with director Thomas Miller’s Limited Partnership, indicates the achievement of equality regarding gender and/or sexuality in this country has progressed forward rather than regressed back. Indeed, although the documentary positively reminisces about the long-lasting results of Tony and Richard’s battle, it also seemingly challenges the viewer to consider a history of embedded homophobia that is only beginning to be undone. All of that aside, the story is indubitably a stepping stone in the victory for love. Simply love, no matter the person. So, with that ladies and gentlemen, cool dames and fancy cats (or vice versa), I leave you to watch for yourself at the Limited Partnership Movie Website.
Credits to Thomas G. Miller’s name being a producer, director, writer, and/or editor include Camp Out (2006), One Bad Cat: The Reverend Albert Wagner Story (2008), Code Black (2013), and Sex(Ed) the Movie (2014). I’d like to thank Mr. Miller for allowing me to write about his tremendous film. A link to his filmography is provided here.
Photo Credit: Hollywood Reporter