Entertainment » Movies

Political Animals

by Michael  Cox
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Monday Jun 19, 2017
Political Animals

"Here's what happens when you allow gays and lesbians to get married. Nothing!" says Jackie Goldberg in the multiple award-winning, film festival favorite documentary "Political Animals." Yet for decades she fought for the moment, just two years ago, that the United States Supreme Court recognized Marriage Equality as a constitutional right.

The simple human rights that gay people take for granted today, and the liberties that most citizens of this country consider elementary, were a hard-fought battle for Goldberg and three other openly gay women in the California State Legislature -- namely, Sheila Kuehl, Carole Migden and Christine Kehoe.

This documentary covers the gay right movement in California between the years of 1991 and 2015, beginning with the public protests and riots in the street when Governor Pete Wilson vetoed a gay rights bill.

While part of the LGBT community was burning effigies of the governor in the streets, others were completely complacent, never worrying if they had or needed the same rights as their straight counterparts.

Change began when Sheila Kuehl was elected as the first openly gay legislator. One of the founders of the California Women's Law Center and one of the stars of the television show "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis," she had fought for women's rights and drafted legislation to help protect victims of domestic violence. In 1994, she just wanted to continue to fix injustice and keep people from being hurt.

She was the first to bring a bill to protect kids at school from discrimination, harassment, and bullying. California public school students were protected from discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, and ability, but they had no protection from discrimination based on actual or perceived sexual orientation.

Another openly gay legislator, Carole Migden, came into this struggle. A woman who believed that social movements are essential to social change, she felt that Congress was entrenched in partisan struggles, and State legislatures got real, lasting and permanent business done.

Migden founded the first domestic partner registry 1999, which ensured hospital visitation rights to LGBT partnerships. Then, "like ornaments adorning a Christmas tree," the registry grew from there to include estate planning, employment, and health care.

The charm of this documentary goes far beyond its historical information. The brick wall that was the California legislature of the time was wildly irrational and consequently very funny, as its members tried to convince each other of the "most dangerous lifestyle in America," particularly a scene in which a conservative legislator attempts to convince his colleagues that school children should not be protected from bullying because he has seen more heifers mate with bulls than with other heifers.

It is also a treat to hear Goldberg's emotionally charged and powerful oratory. "There is no definition of 'family' that does not include my family... There is nothing any of you can say or do that makes us less of a family. But what you can do is make it harder for my family to survive."

"It's the freedom to get married and not get married," Migden adds.

Directors Jonah Markowitz and Tracy Wares show the pathway to equality first fully decriminalized homosexuality, then criminalized hate crimes, removed discrimination to give gay families the same rights as other families, and slowly built gay rights by wearing the hatred away.


"Political Animals"
DVD
$19.95
politicalanimalsdoc.com

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