Married lesbian couple Cari Searcy and Kim McKeand who live with their son in Mobil, say that their friends always ask “Why Alabama? You must be crazy.” It is the exact same question that any LGBTQ person will probably also ask at the beginning of this new compelling documentary that tells the story of their lives, and that of another lesbian couple who have to deal with so much more intransigence and unabashed homophobia in this the most conservative State in the US. However what we initially perceive will be a tale of almost sheer helplessness, turns out in the end as story of how hope, love and sheer determination can still make Alabama the right place for these particular families to call home.
Cari and Kim’s problems started with the birth of their son who was born with a hole in his heart, and Kim was denied any involvement in his treatment as a co-parent. Using the fact that her California marriage to Ceri was not recognized by Alabama, the Judge denied her the right to be able to adopt him too. This starts almost a whole decade long through the Court system, which although gave them some victories along the way, they still had to deal with their own State’s judiciary and officialdom who refused to comply with the rulings.
When Kinley separated from the birth father of her child, he easily won full custody of their son, once his lawyer told the Court that Kinley was a lesbian. She and her wife Autumn then have to deal with several legal rebuttals to right the situation, and even when the boy has to be hospitalized because his stepmom had whipped him so hard, the Judge still actually treated Kinley in court as if being a lesbian was far worse than an actual child beater. It took her almost two years of several aborted Court appearances for Kinley to win the case and be able to keep her son, but as the final credits roll, there is a cautionary note that the father is still trying to challenge the decision.
These two stories are sandwiched between the tale of Patricia Todd a disarmingly charming lesbian who gets elected as the first openly gay state representative in Alabama, and the lone legislative voice of its LGBTQ community. Todd, ever a pragmatist, works hard to personally win over as many of the ultra-conservatives of the House in her attempt to stop the flow of potential anti-LGBTQ legislation becoming law in her State, and bristles when her colleagues tell her ‘not to take it personally’ as they seek to reduce our rights.
Like the others in this documentary, Todd is inspirational, although in her case it came at a personal cost when she chose her political career over her marriage. It may not be enough to want anyone to pack up their bags and move to this part of the Deep South at any time …….. especially whilst Judge Roy Moore is still hovering around ….. but it is now very clear why these woman are still happy to call Alabama home.