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The Legal Stranger Project

Documenting same-sex couples whose lives have been impacted by the Defense of Marriage Act

ABOUT THE PROJECT

Nearly one million same-sex couples are being denied 1,138 federal rights, benefits and entitlements inherently granted to heterosexual couples upon marriage. Although same-sex marriage is legal in six states and one district, it is not federally recognized under the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, which defines marriage as the legal union between one man and one woman.  


Through contemporary interviews and verite style footage, The Legal Stranger Project presents a series of personal stories conveying the great disparities encountered by same-sex couples in the U.S. The project follows the lives of newlyweds Amy and Alex Khalaf over a two-year period, through their marriage, insemination, conception and birth of their baby. Amy and Alex planned for months to get pregnant, only to find out that Alex has no legal rights as a mother and is banned from adopting her own child in the state of Virginia. 


As the primary focus, Amy and Alex�s story will be the centerpiece of the project surrounded by four additional stories, which were documented over several months during the height of conflict. Among them is Kelly Glossip, a widow, who has been denied survivor benefits after his partner of 15 years was killed working as a Missouri highway patrol officer. Kelly is plagued with grief and he continues to struggle financially with the loss of the family�s breadwinner. The succession of stories reveal the detrimental consequences of DOMA, which allows the federal government to merely recognize these couples as �legal strangers.�


THE FILMMAKERS

The award-winning documentary team of Amanda Lucidon and Scott Anger, will take an intimate look at the personal struggles of same-sex couples as they navigate the convoluted legal system for parental rights, immigration status, inheritance, health care and survivor benefits.   


The project�s team brings more than 25 years of combined experience telling character-driven, narrative stories.  Director Amanda Lucidon has focused on breaking down stereotypes within communities based on race, culture, class, disability and sexual-orientation through visual storytelling. Lucidon has exposed the plight of migrant workers, indigenous populations and pregnant prisoners, and dispelled myths about the disabled persons through the stories of a young deaf dancer pursuing her dreams and a quadriplegic regaining his independence. Her work has been recognized by the prestigious White House News Photographers Association, National Press Photographers Association Best of Photojournalism, Pictures of the Year International. Co-producer Scott Anger, former director of video at the L.A. Times, has helped produce seven films for the premiere documentary program FRONTLINE on PBS.  In addition, Anger co-produced the documentary film Witnesses to a Secret War, which was funded in part by the Sundance Institute Documentary Fund and ITVS. His work includes five other feature-length documentaries for broadcast on networks such as SHOWTIME, PBS and the BBC. Anger has produced non-fiction films for non-governmental organizations such as the Open Society Foundation and The International Rescue Committee.


TAX DEDUCTIBLE DONATION

We accept tax-deductible donations through Talking Eyes Media, our fiscal agent.Talking Eyes Media (TEM), founded in 2002 by Julie Winokur and Ed Kashiis a non-profit production company that creates powerful media for pressing issues. TEM produces documentary films, multimedia, books and exhibitions that stimulate dialogue and advocate for positive social change. The organization is committed to turning a probing on situations were people struggle unduly, where resources are poorly distributed, and where there's a tremendous opportunity to improve society for future generations.


WHY NOW?

In addition to the in-depth personal stories, The Legal Stranger Project has also documented the latest news events on this issue since Washington, D.C. granted the first marriage licenses to same-sex couples on March 9, 2010. In almost two years, the debate over same-sex marriage and the Defense of Marriage Act has been gaining momentum and becoming part of a national discussion leading up to the Obama administration declaring in 2010 that DOMA unconstitutionally discriminates against same-sex couples.


Throughout 2011, these issues have dominated the news headlines with polls reporting a slim majority of Americans support gay marriage, holding the first Congressional hearing on the impact of DOMA on American families, legalizing same-sex marriage in New York, and the official repeal of �Don�t Ask: Don�t Tell.� As the 2012 presidential candidates take their stances, same-sex marriage and the constitutionality of DOMA will continue to be challenged as a political and human rights issue.


Civil rights leader Congressman John Lewis stated at the first hearing ever held to repeal DOMA on July 20, 2011:


"The Defense of Marriage Act is a stain on our democracy. We must do away with this unjust, discriminatory law once and for all. It reminds me of another dark time in our nation's history, in many years when states passed laws banning blacks and whites from marrying. We look back on that time now with disbelief. And one day we will look back on this period with that same sense of disbelief."


WHAT WILL THE MONEY FUND?

Our goal is to raise $20,000 to complete the production and post-production of two stories for the Legal Stranger Project: Amy & Alex: First Comes Love...  and Dennis & Kelly: Until Death Do Us Part. The funds will also enable us to produce a trailer for the film. 


If we raise more than our campaign goal (and we really hope we do), we will put it toward funding the production and post-production of three more stories, which will focus on immigration, estate and health care benefits. 


WHY SHOULD I DONATE?

Besides supporting a project about an important and timely issue, your donation is 100 % tax-deductible! We are also offering a variety of great perks, including autographed photographs and DVD's, your own screenings and a Q&A with the Director and Producer. 


OTHER WAYS YOU CAN HELP

Funding is vital to the success of The Legal Stranger Project but it's not the only way you can help. 

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