Earlier this year, Fly On The Wall Productions released the trailer for its documentary film Question One, which follows the 2009 debate over marriage equality in Maine. Since then, the film has screened at various film festivals across the country and has been lauded for its unique, all-encompassing perspective on the marriage debate. To accomplish this, filmmakers Joe Fox and James Nubile spent months travelling around Maine, interviewing both supporters and opponents of marriage equality.
The story of Question One revolves around a people’s veto of then-Governor of Maine John Baldacci’s marriage equality legislation. That veto became question one on the 2009 Maine ballot and prompted massive campaigns by those for and against it to encourage voting. Those in favor of marriage equality formed the “No On One” campaign, while those opposed formed the “Yes On One” campaign. The film focuses on a number of characters from each side, revealing their individual reasons for involvement with marriage issues while exposing the inner workings of the respective campaigns.
One prominent and endearing voice in the film is that of Darlene Huntress, director of Field Operations for the “No On One” campaign. Darlene’s commitment and sense of responsibility to her work shines through during her many interviews in Question One. “This is very tiring work, it’s emotional,” she says of the campaign. “It’s emotional because, because I’ve met so many people who are going to be so impacted by this – people whose lives are going to change drastically either for better or for worse.” Challenging the idea that marriage for same-sex couples and faith are somehow mutually exclusive, Darlene recalls her own family’s approach, saying, “They have managed to reconcile their faith and what they believe the Bible says to them, and their love for me.”
While Darlene tackles her organizing duties, the camera also focuses its attention on “No On One” volunteer, Sarah Dowling. Sarah lives with her partner, Linda, and their daughter, Maya. In the film, Sarah laments the confusing and problematic legal status of her family under current Maine law. “Linda and I both now are legally related to Maya, but we are not legally related [to each other],” explains a teary-eyed Sarah. ”We are strangers under the law…We have this child in common, but we are not related to each other.”
Of those opposed to marriage equality, no character proves more curious than the “Yes On One” chairman, Marc Mutty. Since the film’s release, Marc and his behavior have been the subjects of much criticism. Though he begins the campaign as its seeming leader, Marc slowly slips away from that role, abdicating to Frank Schubert of the California-based publicity firm behind Proposition 8. As the film progresses, Marc expresses doubts about the direction the “Yes On One” campaign takes and ultimately shows ambivalence towards the voting outcome. After devoting so much time to ending marriage equality, Marc ends up wishing that his lesbian and gay friends can forgive him.
GLAAD applauds the filmmakers of Question One for highlighting this critical and emotionally charged time in Maine’s history. The film offers invaluable insight into the political landscape around marriage and the voices of those involved.