A true grassroots success story, the documentary Inlaws & Outlaws has been credited with changing minds about marriage equality from coast-to-coast, seen at community screenings in churches, schools, and indie theatres from Maine to Oklahoma to Washington. Now, on the eve of a national election and four statewide votes that could dramatically impact the momentum of the marriage equality movement in the U.S., the award-winning film has been picked up for broadcast on public television stations nationwide beginning this fall.
Inlaws & Outlaws has already been scheduled for broadcast on KCTS 9 in Washington state, where it will air one week before the election. In addition, the film will be screened throughout Washington in partnership with Washington United for Marriage, giving citizens more opportunities to truly understand the issues posed by that state’s Referendum 74. Marriage equality votes are also scheduled in Maine and Maryland and a constitutional amendment is under consideration in Minnesota.
“For the past seven years, Inlaws & Outlaws has been embraced and sustained by expected and unexpected supporters, in some very unexpected places,” notes the film’s director Drew Emery. “Its reach has grown just as attitudes have changed. When I set out to make the film, marriage equality was largely seen as a fringe issue, a pipe dream that concerned only the gay community. Now with President Obama’s support and equal marriage increasingly seen as the civil rights issue of our time, Inlaws & Outlaws has found its feet and taken on a whole new life as it continues to do what it does best: making sure our stories get told.”
Originally premiering at the Seattle International Film Festival in 2005, the film features the real-life love stories of gay and straight Americans, young and old, partnered, single, widowed, and divorced. With an apolitical take on what was then a nascent culture war issue, the film has succeeded by placing its focus on the commonality of all relationships: love. The film reveals, with genuine humor and suspense, how the universal experiences of love —– seeking it, finding it, watching it deepen, or losing it — enrich all of us. Out of the gate, the film enjoyed a successful festival circuit run, picking up awards and winning positive reviews from critics and audiences alike. The breadth of the film’s appeal first became clear when it won the Grand Jury Award at Oklahoma City’s deadCENTER Film Festival.
But then, just at the point when similar films disappear from the public consciousness, something very different happened. Filmmaker Drew Emery recalls, “People from across the country began tracking me down and asking about the film, a great many of them clergy from places like Boise, Dayton, and Tulsa. They’d heard about the film and were eager to bring it to their communities to help bridge what felt like an untenable divide on a contentious issue.”
In response, Emery launched the Hearts + Mind Campaign, a grassroots effort to make Inlaws & Outlaws available to any individual, organization, or community that wants to host a screening. Since then, 500+ screenings have been held throughout the United States, with nearly half of them hosted by churches and synagogues. “That’s not big box office but it’s a mighty big impact,” Emery says, noting that, among other things, the film’s audiences contradict the media perception that gay rights are inherently in conflict with religious communities.
“My wife and I first started showing the film in our living room, then my church, and soon we had so many other churches requesting it. It’s really made a difference in Oklahoma,” says Jim Wheeler, a retired Methodist pastor who organized several screenings across Oklahoma.
Bishop Gene Robinson, Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire, adds, “Inlaws & Outlaws... shows that gay and lesbian people are every bit as serious about their relationships, and that those relationships are every bit as deserving of society’s acknowledgment, as their straight counterparts. This is a film that will change people’s minds by changing their hearts. It is a ‘must see.’”
For broadcast dates, screenings, and more information about Inlaws & Outlaws, please visit www.inlawsandoutlawsfilm.com.