Elevate Difference

If You Like It Then You Should Be Able to Put A Ring On It

Adorable, DIY-style animation and quirky music start off this excellent and important film about marriage equality in Ireland. Cara Holmes and Ciara Kennedy cut and paste stories, images, protests, and facts into a clever, witty, and purposeful narrative.

Voice-overs and interviews are illustrated and screened, intercut or overlaid upon footage from rallies, photo montages, and title cards (which have a very on-trend hand-drawn look). These touches make the film more accessible and adhere to the filmmakers’ established aesthetic. I really respect the directors’ decision to use this style–it actually underscores the gravity of the issue. It’s a very watchable, warm, and likeable documentary, and will have wide appeal.

Full disclosure: I met Cara when we were both booked at Ladyfest Berlin a few years ago, and her band wrote a song about my zine. A couple of years after that, we were both on the bill at Ladyfest Cork, which became the hen do before my UK civil partnership with my wife Sarah. Sarah and I actually staged a mock wedding as part of our comedy show at the festival, using vows rewritten to address the illegality of our marriage in Ireland. We met with MarriagEquality, who were tabling at Ladyfest, and took badges back for our friends to wear while preparing for our ceremony in the UK. We knew some bills were being proposed, and things were looking pretty good in Ireland at the time–like this issue was moving ahead.

When I saw If You Like It Then You Should Be Able To Put A Ring On It mentioned on a friend’s Facebook page, I immediately recognised Cara’s name and followed the link to the film. I felt really frustrated as I began watching; Ireland seems to have come no closer to legal and financial equality for queer couples who wish to marry.

Here’s a quote from one of the on-screen title sequences early on in the film:

In 2005, it was argued before the High Court that Katherine and Ann Louise had a constitutional right to equality: a right to marry, property rights, and family rights. They also argued that the failure to recognise their marriage breached their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights. To date their marriage is still not recognised. On Feb 23, 2007 the case was appealed to the Supreme Court. There is no known timeframe for the Supreme Court hearing.

If You Like It... goes on to introduce couples who’ve married elsewhere, shows footage from protests and rallies (including some awesome placards!), interviews representatives from several marriage rights organisations, and manages the difficult task of presenting different viewpoints (civil partnership as a stepping stone to full equality vs. ‘separate but equal’ compromise) toward a common purpose remarkably well. It also puts the campaign into the larger context of queer rights around the world generally, and provides links in the credits to the organisations and artists who contributed to the film.

The pace of the film is quite inspiring–it builds to a climax that offers hope to the queer community, and should galvanise new allies into action. In the end, I was heartened by both the message and its style of delivery.

The case mentioned above is still pending, and a civil partnership bill is working its way through the Irish government, but it’s a slow process. Major props to Holmes and Kennedy for helping speed things along with this outstanding short film.

Written by: Chella Quint, June 26th 2010