The national debate about marriage equality for same-sex couples comes Uptown tonight as Harlem Stage presents the world premiere of the new documentary short film, “Marriage Equality: Byron Rushing and the Fight for Fairness.” A community forum on the topic will follow, featuring entrepreneur/activist Russell Simmons, Rev. Irene Monroe, coordinator of the African American Roundtable of the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry (CLGS) at the Pacific School of Religion, Cathy Marino-Thomas, board president of Marriage Equality New York, Human Rights Campaign board of directors member David Wilson, and a slate of rights advocates, political activists and religious leaders. The Human Rights Campaign is an official sponsor of the event at Harlem Stage.
The film, directed by New York native and award-winning filmmaker Thomas Allen Harris, connects the African-American Civil Rights Movement of the mid-20th Century with the same-sex marriage equality movement of today. It centers on Democratic Massachusetts State Rep. Byron Rushing, a veteran of the Civil Rights Movement who, in the past decade, took the campaign for same-sex marriage into African-American communities in his home state. In doing so, he challenged religious leaders and defined equal marriage as a civil rights issue on par with the Black equality movements of the 1950s and 1960s.
“Like the Civil Rights Movement did 50 years ago, the marriage equality movement is dominating politics in the current national landscape,” Harris said. “I hope the event at Harlem Stage will launch a movement across the country where community members use the film as a way to discuss marriage and other issues of political and social importance, especially as it relates to communities of color.”
“Harlem Stage is a place where members of our community gather to discuss issues and be inspired by art that reflects and comments on contemporary society,” said Patricia Cruz, executive director of Harlem Stage. “The gathering after this film premiere will provide a forum where all opinions can be heard and better understood.”
“Marriage Equality: Byron Rushing and the Fight for Fairness” was commissioned by Tribeca Film Institute’s “Tribeca All Access” Program in collaboration with 46664 and the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
MARRIAGE EQUALITY: Byron Rushing and the Fight for Fairness
Directed by Thomas Allan Harris
Tuesday, April 26, 7:30 p.m., at Aaron Davis Hall, 135th Street at Convent Avenue
TICKETS: $10 at www.HarlemStage.org or 212-281-9240 ext. 19 or 20