The Chuck and Larry Next Door: 10Couples.org Features Same-Sex Couples Who Face Hardships Because They Cannot Marry

July 18, 2007 12:00 am

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NEW YORK – After moviegoers have a laugh at Adam Sandler and Kevin James pretending to be a gay couple in the new film I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, the American Civil Liberties Union is urging them to visit 10Couples.org to find out what it’s really like to be denied legal protections for your family. The website, developed by Public Interest and the ACLU, features videos of 10 same-sex couples who explain the difficulties of trying to protect their families without access to the many protections that come automatically through marriage.

In Chuck and Larry, which opens July 20th, firefighter Larry (Kevin James), after the death of his wife, enters into a domestic partnership with his coworker friend Chuck (Adam Sandler) to guarantee that his children will receive his pension if he dies. Larry is in a difficult situation, and decides that the needs of his family outweigh the difficulty and potential danger of entering into a fraudulent partnership. The film is broadly comic, and treats lightly a serious issue: families are put at risk when they lack legal protections for their relationships. While, in the movie, “Larry” has the option – albeit a fraudulent one – of domestic partnership to receive at least some benefits (though still unequal to those of marriage), the truth is that only 10 states out of fifty offer significant legal protections for same-sex relationships.

“We hope that people realize that, while the film is funny, the idea of protections for same-sex relationships isn’t a joke,” said Matt Coles, Director of the ACLU’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Project. “The couples featured in 10Couples.org are not able to marry or even have domestic partnerships in the states they live in, and lack hundreds of important protections that are vital to secure relationships and families. Anyone who sees Chuck and Larry should also visit 10Couples.org, to get the full story on the challenges facing same-sex couples.”

Chuck and Larry, meet Steve and Mark, documentary filmmakers living in Charleston, South Carolina, who have been together for over 15 years, and are featured on 10Couples. When Steve suffered a near-fatal aneurysm in 1998, Mark found that he was barred from making medical decisions for his partner. Meet Octavia and Deborah, of Detroit, Michigan, committed partners for over 10 years. Deborah, who had no health insurance, developed a blood clot in her leg that put her in the hospital for a week. Octavia was insured, but could not add her partner to her plan. The couple is still paying off medical bills. Meet Dick and Bob, of Palm Beach, Florida, who met as freshman in college in 1955 and have been committed partners ever since. Despite this, they are unable to cover each other with their social security or pensions, and they worry that they will be separated if they become sick and are forced to enter a nursing home.

Seven more couples — from Lake Arrowhead and Long Beach, California; Toronto, Canada; Pensacola, Florida; Bowie, Maryland; Detroit, Michigan; and White Plains, New York — are also featured in their own short videos.

The campaign was conceived and produced by Public Interest, a non-profit ad agency and production company dedicated to delivering high quality work that addresses critical social issues. Public Interest’s work has earned two Emmy awards in the past four years including one for their groundbreaking MTV advertising campaign focusing on the tragic hate-murder of Matthew Sheppard outside Laramie, Wyoming.

The 10 videos are also available on YouTube.com at: https://www.youtube.com/profile?user=10couples.

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