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26 Feb 2008

docu about dying lesbian's equality fight wins oscar; director's acceptance speech snipped

Part of director Cynthia Wade's acceptance speech about the woman in her documentary who spent her last days fighting against discrimination was snipped from the repeat telecast of the awards ceremony shown on Singapore TV last night.

"It was Lieutenant Laurel Hester's dying wish that her fight for, against discrimination would make a difference for all the same sex couples across the country that face discrimination every day. Discrimination that I don't face as a married woman."

From courtroom scenes to the couple's private moments at home, the 38-minute film captures Lt. Laurel Hester's (top image, right) battle in the last months as she is supported by colleagues from the police department and LGBT activists who lobby the county's elected officials known as the Freeholders. Last image: director Cynthia Wade (right) and producer Vanessa Roth.
These words by Cynthia Wade, who bagged an Oscar (Best Documentary short) at the 80th Academy Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday night for her film Freeheld, are apparently unsuitable for audiences in Singapore as readers wrote to Fridae about the apparent snip by the country's main English language TV station, Channel 5.

In an emotional tribute, Wade, who had moved into the guestroom of the couple's home during Hester's last few months to film the documentary, also thanked her husband for taking care of their two young daughters while holding down a full-time job while she worked on the film.

The 38-minute documentary chronicled the struggle of New Jersey Detective Lt. Laurel Hester who spent the last six months of her life fighting local officials to transfer her pension to her domestic partner, Stacie Andree so that that she can afford to keep their house, after being diagnosed with cancer.

Under guidelines by the Media Development Authority (MDA), depictions of homosexuality are not disallowed as "long as the presentation does not justify, promote or glamorise such a lifestyle.

Far from justifying, promoting or glamorising homosexuality, Wade was in fact advocating equality and non-discrimination. When asked to confirm the edit and explain its reasons for omitting that segment of Wade's speech, MediaCorp - which runs Channel 5 - did not respond by press time.

Explaining a unique alliance that formed between "macho cops that normally would not be considered gay allies" and gay activists who lobbied alongside Hester, Wade said in an interview with the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation that because they [the cops] "saw one of their favourite police partners face discrimination, they realised it was wrong and said, 'No, we're going to stand up as a community and say this is wrong. It's about equality.'"

Although in 2004 New Jersey allowed municipalities to extend domestic partner benefits to gay and lesbian couples who work in local government, Ocean County - where couple lived - did not allow for that. Had Hester, who worked as a detective on the force for over 20 years, been in a heterosexual relationship, the pension would have been automatically afforded to her married partner.

The five Ocean County freeholders ultimately voted to extend benefits to same-sex couples just weeks before Hester died in February 2006 at 49.
New Jersey has been in the forefront on key gay rights issues in recent years. It became among the first to offer domestic partnership benefits to same-sex couples in 2004. In December 2006, New Jersey became the third state to offer civil unions offering same-sex couples all the benefits of marriage except the title. Couples have been allowed to enter into the unions since Feb 22, 2007. To date, only the state of Massachusetts allows gay marriage.

Freeheld Trailer

Cynthia Wade's and Vanessa Roth's acceptance speeches


Reader's Comments

1. 2008-02-26 20:31  
Yet further confirmation that a few very misguided "Christian" individuals hold much too much power in the decision making process for the Media Development Authority (MDA) in Singapore. It is not only discouraging to see that a government body has allowed and enfranchised the followers of a certain religion into media control but it is also another step towards further hatred in Singapore. Shame on you peons in the Media Development Authority (MDA)! Keep separation of Church and State and stop fueling discrimination through misguided thoughts of what you think is alright in Christian values. You Christians in Singapore are only 10% of the population but you people have wormed your way into a much higher percentage of the government offices to strangle what is left of free minds.
2. 2008-02-26 21:54  
the live telecast at 9am, this part was not deleted.
3. 2008-02-26 22:37  
I was lucky to be able to catch the unedited live telecast...
4. 2008-02-27 00:56  
Has anyone noticed if any other country has done something similar?

Even Malaysia broadcast Will and Grace, and Sex and the City, unlike Singapore's censors who think the programmes are too mature for Singaporeans...
5. 2008-02-27 08:48  
Shame on Singapore, and shame on the MDA. The Singapore government is building a permanent and inpenetrable wall of hatred, resentment and separation from the civilized world in general and the global gay community....a condition from which it will never recover. My PINK MONEY will never be spent or invested in Singapore.....NEVER.
6. 2008-02-27 17:35  
half the channel 8 males are homos, and ditto for its upper echelon management, newscasters et al and this kind of thing still occurs. seriously, who decides what and what not to cut? some general directive was probably given to some rank and file person who just went trigger happy with the snips. they should concentrate on blanket censoring other historical works of shame.all i can say is VR MAN, PHUA CHU KANG SEASON 10, NOW BOARDING, POLICE AND THIEF AND THE NOOSE
7. 2008-02-27 18:19  
Lol @ ultra_09 --> Witty.

Touching speech by Cynthia.
8. 2008-02-27 18:58  
Maybe the people who make such ill-judged and offensive censorship snips, particularly regarding such a moving film and acceptance speech, don't realise the enormous and disproportionate ill-will that such a small mean-spirited act creates, not just in Singapore, but worldwide.

9. 2008-02-27 20:09  

5.1 Broadcasters should bear in mind the importance of the family as the basic unit of society in Singapore. The sanctity of marriage should be respected, and divorce should not be treated casually or in a frivolous manner. Adultery, cohabitation and promiscuity should not be endorsed, glamorised or encouraged.

5.2 Information, themes or subplots on lifestyles such as homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexualism, transsexualism, transvestism, paedophilia and incest should be treated with utmost caution. Their treatment should not in any way promote, justify or glamorise such lifestyles. Explicit depictions of the above should not be broadcast.

5.3 Obscene or offensive jokes, words, gestures, songs, dialogues and subtitles should not be broadcast.

5.4 Programmes should not make careless references to any class or group of persons as being inherently inferior. Programmes should not encourage or in any way discriminate against any section of the community on account of gender, age, disability or occupational status.

5.5 Behaviour such as smoking and alcoholism should not be presented as glamorous or desirable, especially in local programmes.

5.6 Kissing in Malay programmes should be avoided.
10. 2008-02-27 20:20  
im str8 , so not my problem
11. 2008-02-27 20:21  
im str8 never dun like lesbi or homo freak
12. 2008-02-27 20:22  
im jehovah witness member
13. 2008-02-28 03:45  
I absolutely agree with caesar2003's strong conviction: "My PINK MONEY will never be spent or invested in Singapore... NEVER."

Despite being a holder of the PINK identity card (which is merely a tag 'acknowledging' its owner as a citizen of the REPUBLIC of singapore), i'm equally disgusted by the fake democracy the government shamelessly proclaims.

No matter; i'll be out of this place in no time. My one-and-only home is, and will always be, Hong Kong. "Land of my birth, where my heart longs to be."
14. 2008-02-28 10:53  
i just think singapore should've censored the old dogs in the MDA video. their sense of humour abit complex. "holla!" i don't know whether to laugh or to cry.
Comment #15 was deleted by its author
16. 2008-02-28 21:56  
I always found singapore TV one of the worst that I have come across... it was ok as SBC, but got from bad to worse since... channelnewsasia is a poor copy of fox news which is itself an awful news show already... ch5 was always no-quality, superficial broadcasting full of lowlife stereotypes and it has gotten worse ever since...

it was already surprising to me that the cinemas showed the gay-ish sci-fi spoof 'Traumschiff Surprise' by Bavarian Comedian Michael 'Bully' Herbig. I guess the guys at the MDA didn't understand the humour...
17. 2008-03-01 20:45  
Programming that doesn't discriminate: -

Anyone who can access the UK itunes store can now download Torchwood, the Doctor Who spin-off, from BBC Worldwide programmes, and see what popular, high budget TV drama/sci fi can look like with handsome, non-stereotype, fully integrated gay and bisexual main characters. The first programme of series 2 includes a full on kiss between the hero, and "Spike" from Buffy The Vampire-Slayer, who plays a rogue time agent.

Comment #18 was deleted by its author
Comment #19 was deleted by its author
Comment #20 was deleted by its author
21. 2008-03-01 21:56  
Here is another beautiful gay moment from Torchwood on You Tube, where the hero has gone back in time to World War II, and has a tragic dance and snog with an officer who he knows is going to get killed. Watch it right to the end of the clip!

For some reason the link wont work here, so just do a search on YouTube for Torchwood The Jack and Jack kiss.
Comment #22 was deleted by its author

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