Photo courtesy of Cinema Libre Studios

Documentary explores rights battle for gay and lesbian families

Cinema Libre Studio’s new documentary, For My Wife, is about the creation of a marriage equality activist.  The film tells a poignant story that is unfortunately hindered by the approach of the filmmakers.

The story follows Charlene Strong, who lost her wife Kate Fleming in December 2009. Fleming was drowned while trapped in the couple’s basement in Seattle during a flash flood. Once Fleming was resuscitated and taken to the hospital, a social worker disallowed Strong from being with the dying Fleming until her next of kin could be notified.

Strong was able to spend about two minutes with Fleming before her body gave out. After twenty minutes of attempts to revive her, Strong told the hospital staff to stop and then witnessed her wife’s death.

After this traumatic ordeal, Strong faced more discrimination from the funeral home director, who refused to recognize that Strong, and not Fleming’s mother, was the one to make decisions about Fleming’s burial.

The documentary illuminates how Strong took these horrible events and became an activist for gay rights. Her testimony in the Washington state legislature one month after Fleming’s death contributed to the passing of a bill to give gay and lesbian couples about ten domestic partnership rights.

Strong’s journey takes her across the continent, appearing on multiple television programs and even meeting with Gloria Steinem and Barack Obama.

The story is moving, but the tactics used to tell it were old-fashioned and unbecoming. Dramatizations, editing effects and over-sentimental filler reels distracted from the story, which is a modern tragedy that deserves a large audience.

Despite all this, For My Wife is a beautiful film. For more information or to purchase the film go to