Catholic school bans filming of 'Freeheld' movie

Salesian High School, a Roman Catholic boy's school in New Jersey, has reversed their earlier decision allowing the upcoming film Freeheld to shoot on the school's campus after learning what the film was about. The feature length film, starring Ellen Page and Julianne Moore, is based on the 2007 documentary of the same name about police Lieutenant Laurel Hester who fought for her pension benefits to be extended to her partner Stacie Andree after she passed away. Freeheld won an Oscar in 2008 in the Best Short Documentary category.

As reported by Buzzfeed, a location manager from the Freeheld film described the movie's plot to school staffers and was allowed to shoot still photos of the building. The school's principal John Flaherty first approved the shoot and then reversed the decision, saying he would forward an e-mail appealing the school's decision from the film's producer Michael Shamberg to the school's president, Father John Serio. The school has previously served as the setting for a music video and a TV commercial.

Mayor Paul Rosenberg of nearby town Rye Brook stepped in and offered Freeheld the use of his city's town hall to film the scene in question, in which Hester (Moore) applies for a domestic partnership with Andree (Page).

"Freeheld captures the inequality and bigotry that one couple faced while coping with cancer and the end of life," producer Kelly Bush told The Hollywood Reporter. "That our film was denied access to a location because of the subject matter — a same-sex couple fighting for their legal rights — illustrates just how important it is that this story be told."

The Roman Catholic Church has struggled with LGBT people, often resulting in job loss, denial of sacraments, and speaking cancellations. Despite Pope Francis' efforts to make the Roman Catholic Church more inclusive, a gathering of cardinals last week rejected language that would have acknowledged the reality of LGBT Catholics. The move has placed the hierarchy further out of step with the vast majority of Catholics, who are overwhelmingly LGBT supportive.

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