Documentary Explores Impact of Virginia LawCouple forced to leave state because of anti-gay legislation
FREDERICKSBURG, Va.—In 2004, over the protests of the governor of Virginia, the state legislature went further than any other in the country in passing legislation to prohibit same-sex unions by any name. "Barbara and Tibby: A Love Story in the Face of Hate" looks at the impact of the law through the lives of one Virginia couple, forced to leave the state when the discriminatory and arguably unconstitutional legislation went into effect.
Barbara Kenny and Tibby Middleton, both in their 60s, had lived quietly, silently bearing the burden of discrimination throughout their lives. They are not activists; they are simply two people who have loved each other for nearly 40 years, and wanted to live out the rest of their lives together, confident that legal steps they’d taken would enable them to always care for each other. Virginia’s Affirmation of Marriage Act robbed them of that peace of mind.
HB 751, which became Virginia Code Section 20–45.3, prohibits people of the same sex from entering into legal arrangements “purporting to bestow the privileges or obligations of marriage.” Many lawyers believe the law could impact wills, medical directives, powers of attorney, and other legal documents, not just between same-sex couples, but between any persons of the same sex.
Virginia artist Suzanne Moe put a human face on the people targeted by this controversial legislation, interviewing her friends after they made their decision to leave their home. Combined with family photos, and music from Uppity Blues Woman Gaye Adegbalola, Moe’s partner and close friend of the couple, "A Love Story in the Face of Hate" provides an insightful, entertaining and educational glimpse into the often misunderstood “gay lifestyle.”
(Photo © Scott Neville, The Free Lance-Star)
This story, however, transcends gay rights—it is a story about human rights.
Though she planned only to screen the documentary for friends, to help them understand why Barbara and Tibby had to leave, Moe’s documentary—and the powerful story it tells—has taken on a life of its own. It has been broadcast on public access television stations and shown and discussed throughout the country in venues ranging from house parties to college and university classrooms, independent film theaters, and at various political, community and faith-based events.
In November 2006, the so-called "Virginia Marriage Amendment" was passed. This Constitutional Amendment is so broadly written that it can deny recognition and legal protections for all unmarried couples in Virginia; gay or straight.
“Inform, educate and activate,” Moe said. “That is our mission.”
* * *
Attorney Leila Kilgore provides legal interpretation.
Also included are three songs by Gaye Adegbalola (of Saffire-The Uppity Blues Women), with accompaniment by Roddy Barnes.
* * *
Copies of “Love Story” DVD are available for sale, and public screenings, complete with an educational program, are being arranged.
* * *