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The Right to Love: An American Family

Well-intentioned but pedestrian, "The Right to Love" makes the case for gay marriage by focusing on a Northern California family of two daddies and two adopted kids.

Cast:
With: Bryan Leffew, Jay Foxworthy, Daniel Leffew, Selena Leffew, Denise Miney, Justin R. Cannon, Anne Leffew, Chuck Leffew, Brandon Leffew.

Well-intentioned but pedestrian, “The Right to Love” makes the case for gay marriage by focusing on a Northern California family of two daddies and two adopted kids. They are indeed very ordinary folk, beyond the same-sex union, which makes Cassie Jaye’s docu a good argument for equality but a pretty dull human-interest story. Padded with rehashes of the state’s Proposition 8 battle, plus debates over hot-button issues (school bullying, gay youth suicide) already explored in greater depth elsewhere, the pic seems unlikely to foster much change preaching to the converted in a limited, Oscar-qualifying theatrical release starting Sept. 7.

Pic would arguably be more valuable in truncated form on TV and social media, where it might access and educate gay marriage foes. In fact, much of it already has been online; Jaye uses lengthy excerpts from the “Gay Family Values” videos that Bryan Leffew and Jay Foxworthy posted on YouTube to show just how “normal and boring our family is.” They’re right: Unless you’re thrown into shock seeing a loving male couple parent two young children, this footage is no more or less interesting than anybody’s homemovies. They seem very nice guys, regular churchgoing types, their kids Selena and Daniel happy and well cared for. Those who would nix gay adoption might well ask themselves where little Daniel would be without it, as he has a developmental condition that no other family had wanted to take on.

A couple for 13 years before California briefly allowed same-sex marriage, Leffew and Foxworthy are seen protesting Prop. 8, which overturned that earlier Supreme Court decision. Pic also covers the national dialogue those events inspired, as hashed over by such personalities as Rachel Maddow and Whoopi Goldberg on one hand, Ann Coulter and Kirk Cameron on the other.

Eventually the pic moves on to the related kid-centric territories of bullying and suicide. There’s also some input from Leffew’s father, grandmother and brother, who are supportive of the couple if not necessarily of their political cause, offering potential dramatic conflict that the film doesn’t really pursue.

Some rather cloying songs aside, packaging is adequate.

The Right to Love: An American Family

Documentary

Production: A Jaye Bird Prods. release of a Jaye Bird presentation. Produced by Christina Clack, Cassie Jaye, Nena Jaye, Ford Austin, Marc Wasserman. Executive producer, Jay Pugh. Directed, edited by Cassie Jaye.

Crew: Camera (color, HD), Jaye, Nena Jaye; music, Edwin Wendler; sound, Steve Orlando, Sean England, Frank Clary, Mac Smith. Reviewed on DVD, San Francisco, Aug. 2, 2012. (In Frameline.) Running time: 89 MIN.

With: With: Bryan Leffew, Jay Foxworthy, Daniel Leffew, Selena Leffew, Denise Miney, Justin R. Cannon, Anne Leffew, Chuck Leffew, Brandon Leffew.

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