After U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Shelby struck down a gay marriage ban last December, the nation has been ablaze with discussions about the constitutional rights of its gay and lesbian population.
This past Sundance Film Festival gave its U.S. Documentary Directing Award to Ben Cotner and Ryan White, the filmmakers of "The Case Against 8," which examined the case to overturn California's same-sex marriage ban.
Closer to home, a local filmmaker, D'Arcy Benincosa wants to shed light on the topic with a new documentary called "Where All the Stories Are Love Stories."
She is working to raise $50,000 through Kickstarter.com to fund her project. So far, she has raised nearly $7,000, but knows she still has a long way to go.
"I started making the film last year myself," Benincosa said during an interview with The Park Record. "I've been holding the camera, which is probably not a great camera for a big-screen film and I've been editing the footage as well."
Benincosa's goal is to raise money to do the project correctly.
"I believe in hiring talented crews and paying them money for their contributions," she said. "I have an artistic vision for the film that will require motion-graphics and an original score. And this will require a lot of editing time and travel time for me and my crew."
The filmmaker already has some interviews with people in California.
"I've been contacting a lot of people who have popped up in the news these past few weeks in Utah, Florida and Colorado," she said. "I would like to get their interviews done in the next few weeks, to get them in the midst of the proceedings."
Benincosa, a white, straight woman, was touched by her subjects' plight and decided she needed to do something.
"These stories have become so touching to me," she said. "These are beautiful love stories and some of these people have waited more than 20 years to get married.
"They are human just like me, but to hear them talk about how they haven't been able to be married is heartbreaking," she said. "They become second-class citizens."
Some of the issues Benincosa will address in the film are partners' rights when it comes to insurance, taxex and even just little things like hospital visitation.
"If one of them was seriously sick in the hospital, the other wouldn't be able to go be by their bedside because only family members are allowed entry during these times," she said. "Also, if they have children and one of the partners were to die, the children wouldn't have the rights that children of married couples would have on a government level. There would be the possibility that the child would become a custody of the state."
Those issues astounded Benincosa.
"I thought we had overcome a lot of civil rights issues in the 1960s, and there wasn't any more battles to fight," she said. "So to see this is the exact same scenario, it became a compelling story for me to tell."
Some have questioned why Benincosa would want to make a film about same-sex marriage.
"I say to them that I can guarantee that I would have marched with Martin Luther King Jr., for equal rights if I was old enough back in the 1960s," she said. "This is the same scenario and all that matters is justice.
"To quote Martin Luther King himself, 'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,' is a simple concept to understand," Benincosa said. "You don't have to be gay to understand that. You don't have to be anything to understand the common thread of all these love stories."
Benincosa said time is of the essence.
"I think the issue may become a federal law in the next few months, so ideally, I would like to get the film edited and submitted to the next Sundance Film Festival," she said.
Benincosa, who was the Park City High School drama teacher for two years, said she originally got into theater and drama because she wanted to be an actress.
"After acting for a while, I found directing was more what I wanted to do because I wanted more of a say of the artistic [content] of the projects I was in," she said. "As an actor you do what the director tells you to do, while that is fun and satisfying and you get the limelight on stage, I really enjoyed the process of coming up with the concepts, the color palate, the lighting and soundtrack of music."
Benincosa took directing and English classes at New York University.
"I felt if the directing didn't go my way, I could always become a writer and write screenplays," she said. "I emphasized that in my masters degree."
So when she began delving into the topic of same-sex marriage, Benincosa knew she needed to do something.
"It was the subject matter and the fact that it was better than any fake story that I could create," she said.
Since word got out that she was making her film, she has been inundated by emails and phone calls.
"I've had 20 to 30 couples email me, asking if they could tell their story," she said. "These are couples who want their love recognized and it's time for that to happen.
"I totally believe in a miracle," she said. "I'm sure if Ellen Degeneres or George Takei tweets it out, we would have this funded in just a few hours."
For information about D'Arcy Benincosa's film "Where All the Stories Are Love Stories" and its Kickstarter program, visit: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/461259724/where-all-the-stories-are-love-stories/