Married and Counting
Directed by Allan Piper
Playing at the Creative Alliance at the Patterson April 18, 7:30 p.m.
On their 25th anniversary, Pat Dwyer and Stephen Mosher decided to finally tie the knot. Their friends were thrilled, but there was a snag-Pat and Stephen are both men, and the federal government will not legally recognize their marriage. So the happy couple decided to do the next best thing: get hitched in all of the states that would give them the certificate. Their wedding tour (the last wedding happened in July 2011) became an eight-month, eight-ceremony celebration, part-protest and part-savvy legal move, with a pinch of TLC-worthy wedding chaos thrown in. Pat and Stephen didn't just show up at courthouses and sign their names. They stood on a covered bridge in New Hampshire in December. They broke glasses under a chuppah in Iowa. They exchanged vows on the steps of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. Pat and Stephen, who screened their documentary, Married and Counting, at the Creative Alliance back in November, just before Maryland made gay marriage legal, will be back on April 18 for another screening, followed by another wedding ceremony, at the Patterson. We talked to the couple recently about recording their lives and their upcoming wedding(s).
City Paper: When did you get the idea to turn this wedding adventure into a film?
Stephen Mosher: It was a strange turn of events because it was one of those moments-there was no watershed moment, no light bulb-it just grew like a seed that's planted. At a party, a friend of ours said something funny and I responded, "Yes, we should go to all the states in America where it's legal and get married and then we can sue the American government for all the money that we spend doing it." And then it was just weeks later that somebody said, "Well, you should buy a video camera and make sure to film it." We sort of bounced the idea around in our heads for a while, and then Allen [Piper, the director,] came on board a few months later. It was just a gradual process, going from being a joke at a party to being a movie.
CP: Is there any particular moment that stands out to you now when you look back at those eight months of eight weddings?
Pat Dwyer: I think that my favorite moment is one that isn't in the film. It was in Iowa. Marcy, who is our longest-time girlfriend, was officiating, and she's Jewish, so we asked her to perform us a Jewish-ish ceremony. . . . One of the things that happens in the ceremony is that the people who are getting married walk around each other three times, and they walk around the chuppah and then join the officiate. As we did that, she hit a button on a boom box and began to sing this very rare Stephen Sondheim tune called "The Two of You." It was really wonderful and rare and beautiful.
SM: You know, the funny thing is that sometimes as I'm drifting off to sleep at night, my mind becomes one of those 20-second movie montages that you see, where there's some great scoring by Eric Clapton and about a thousand scenes crammed into a few seconds.
I'll tell you something else that doesn't come across in the film, although I believe there's a moment when it's mentioned: Every single young person we spoke to-5-year-olds, 13-year-olds, 10-year-olds, 16-year-olds-every young person we spoke to would say something like, "Oh, you're getting married, cool." And then they would go back to playing their games or whatever they were doing. And the implication [is] that, to the young people of America, this is unremarkable, to them it's natural, that's on my mind a lot.
CP: You're coming to Baltimore and you're going to be getting married for the ninth time after the screening. What made you decide to get married this time?
SM: This time, because, A, I love weddings, and B, I love this man so much. . . . This wedding is going to be very musical. It's going to be fun and casual and romantic. Also, you know, if we've already done eight weddings, why stop now? We're going off to Seattle for our next wedding, and I think that we're doing Maine in August [around the time of] the potato-blossom festival. I don't believe in doing things halfway.
CP: Is it still as exciting going into your ninth wedding as it was going into the first?
PD: Yes, it is! Every time we start down another wedding path it's just amazing. You keep thinking, Surely I'll be used to this by now, but it just sort of takes me over and I get all giggly and whatnot. If you see in the movie I'm the one who cries through the whole thing, and I keep saying, every time that I cried at a wedding, that was just a rehearsal for the next cry, because it just got bigger and bigger and bigger. But I am very excited. The reason for coming to Baltimore is to continue the celebration [for us] and for the page of history Maryland has turned for itself. ■
For more information, visit creativealliance.org.