One of the things that has always annoyed me about people opposing gay rights laws is the absolute refusal of the opposition especially those religiously based to recognize romantic love. It's not recognized in the holy works of religion therefore it doesn't exist. Even in this film where we are talking about two people in love. Believe the evidence of your own eyes about Laurel Hester and Stacie Andree in the film Freeheld. I worked for NYS Crime Victims Board and in death I came in contact with a lot of ordinary LGBTQ people who in death had their lives magnified far more than what they did in their lives. Such is the case with Laurel Hester who was a detective with the Ocean County Police in New Jersey. I'm not sure she was closeted, but she certainly was discreet in her male dominated work place. Discretion went out the window when she meets Stacie Andree a much younger woman at a softball game. The two start living together and while it's not all roses, the commitment is truly there. And then cancer strikes and what to do about whatever estate Hester might leave. This story illustrates precisely the problem that LGBTQ people had before marriage settled the issue permanently. You could in some places get a domestic partnership certificate and have the relationship recorded. But it wasn't mandated that private industry and government recognize it. Thus was the issue of the film as the town of Freehold and its governing body would not extend survivor benefits to Ms. Andree. They were not married, but legally they could not get married. At least without a lot of agitation and organizing. Which is where Steve Carrell as Steven Goldstein comes in, leading the same sex marriage lobbying group. The issue as he says is so neatly encapsulated in the problem that Hester and Andree face. Two things I liked about Freeheld that make this a special film. One was the chemistry between Julianne Moore and Ellen Page as Laurel and Stacy. They made me believe the love was real. The second was the scenes among Laurel's police colleagues with her and among themselves. The differing reactions was a sampling of straight and male America, quite nicely documented. Freeheld is a great film showing the need for same sex marriage as few others have.
New Jersey police lieutenant, Laurel Hester, and her registered domestic partner, Stacie Andree, both battle to secure Hester's pension benefits when she is diagnosed with terminal cancer.
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May 12, 2019