“SAINTS AND SINNERS”— Catholic, Gay and Getting Married

“Saints and Sinners”

Catholic, Gay and Getting Married

Amos Lassen

Of late there has been a lot of talk about gay marriage and I bet most of us do not remember what was going on about it in 2004. Edward DeBonis and Vincent Maniscalco had been living together for seven years and they decided that they wanted to get married. Both devout Catholics, they were only willing to settle for the “Holy Sacrament of Marriage” and they requested that the New York Times print their wedding announcement in the Style section of the paper. This was one of the first requests that the Times had had and the paper knew that publishing a Catholic gay wedding announcement would give the editors a good deal of controversy and there were discussions as to whether a gay union could be called a wedding and whether a gay couple could indeed be considered Catholic. We must remember that this took place at the very beginning of the trend toward legal acceptance of LGBT unions. The film looks at the social, political and religious aspects of same-sex marriage and how American society has been affected. What the film really focuses on is how these two men want their marriage to be in accordance with the Catholic sacrament of marriage. They had to fight to find a priest who would perform the ceremony as well as being the first Catholic couple to be featured in the New York Times. We become witness to how real people deal with the fight for acceptance. (I will not use the word tolerance because that is just a band aid).

This is quite a moving story in our fight for equal rights and we see firsthand how the Catholic church treats us. Neither of the men would consider marrying outside of the church as they were both devout and active members in it.

Abigail Honor has filmed this beautifully and the opening shots of Edward calling seven different Catholic churches in New York City prepares us for what we are going to see later. We then hear each man as he explains why he is doing what he does and feels that he has to. We hear their coming out stories and meet their families and we learn of the importance of the church in their lives. Then we hear of the wedding plans and the arguments over decorations, clothing and the reception and we see the importance of detail to them.

The men tell us about “Dignity”, the gay and lesbian Catholic organization that celebrates Mass in churches that are not Catholic and the parishioners are treated as second class citizens. We learn of their families and how Edward and Vince get into trouble with their home churches because of their activism in “Dignity”. They have real concerns and it is really something to see when it comes time for communion at their wedding when it seems that no one will partake. What we do not see is the other side—the divisiveness and the dissension but we are well aware that it is there. There is not a lot of drama but there is sensitivity and it is a beautiful look at a contemporary problem.


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