Thomas Allen Harris’ documentary short offers a profile of Byron Rushing, a Massachusetts state representative who played a prominent role in the campaign to legalize same-sex marriage.
Rushing, an African American heterosexual with no previous experience in advocating gay rights issues, responded to the concerns of many of his constituents and linked the contemporary marriage equality campaign with the civil rights campaigns of the 1950s and 1960s. In a 2004 speech before a Massachusetts constitution convention on the subject of same-sex marriage, Rushing articulated a power message that spelled out the tenets of legal equality as it relates to the LGBT community.
Socially and politically, Rushing was walking on difficult terrain – many black churches in his district were opposed to same-sex marriage and were unhappy that the marriage debate was being presented as a civil rights endeavor. However, this opposition was not unanimous, and the film presents several same-sex African American couples that married within church settings.
It is a shame that the film runs a scant 17 minutes, since Rushing is a charismatic raconteur with a life story that could easily fill a full-length documentary – including his frontline work during the original civil rights movement. Nonetheless, this well-made production offers a fine profile of a fascinating figure in the push for contemporary social equality.