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Knot explores emotional side of gay marriage

by Loren Moreno, Editor


Sam never imagined he’d be defending the property he and his spouse acquired while spending the better part of their lives together. Sam, a worn out and tired rancher in Plumbuck, Oklahoma, is fighting a bitter legal battle with his Earl’s family. Earl is Sam’s husband.

Tying the Knot, a 2004 documentary by Jim de Seve, follows Sam and his family as they struggle to find legal acceptance for his lifelong union to Earl. Similarly, it tells the stories of other gay couples as they struggle to be accepted.


Tying the Knot is not the typical documentary laced with arguments and set with intentions on changing the minds of the viewers. This is no Fahrenheit 9-11. It is, however, is a film that makes use of real human stories to evoke emotion and understanding.

Sam’s story is typical of many gay couples across the country. Sam isn’t, however, your typical gay man. He’s a trucker hat wearing, shot gun toting, and a plaid and overall dressed redneck—entirely absent of what he considers “nelly” characteristics.

Earl’s family dispute is that he and Sam were never in a union at all. Moreover, since homosexuals may not enter into legal unions Earl’s will is null and void.

Tying the Knot pulls on heart strings in other ways as well. Personal stories are constantly interrupted by montages of anti-gay protesters and visual image of gay bashers. One man in the video is shown shouting at the top of his lungs that “God hates fags.” The saddest image in the video was when a 10-year-old girl is interviewed in a crowd of anti-gay protesters. Directly to the camera she says she was “taught well” and proceeded to chant, “Hey. Hey ho. Homos have got to go.”

Arguments for gay marriage, in the video, are as inadequately backed up and irrational as the arguments are against it. For instance, EJ Graff, author of What is Marriage?, argues that love is the most important criteria for marriage. However, if that is the assumption, then people could also marry children.

Graff does make important historical points that contradict the conservative argument that marriage is somehow stagnant, unchanged, and “traditional.” According to Graff, historically, marriage has gone through many changes including people of different classes, social status, and races being allowed to marry. She points to the 1960’s when interracial marriages were being attacked by conservatives who said it would lead to the “demise of society”—remarkably similar to the arguments made against gay marriage.

The personal stories in Tying the Knot may make some people more compassionate to the gay struggle. However, Graff’s arguments are as strong as they get in Tying the Knot and no person who is against gay marriage will be converted after watching the film.


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