Love Free or Die

Love Free or Die

  • BY Macky Alston | IN LGBTQ
    Premiered October 29, 2012

About the Film

In 2003, Gene Robinson became the first openly gay priest in a committed same-sex relationship to be ordained a bishop in any Christian denomination. But his consecration has brought the Episcopal Church in the United States to the brink of a catastrophic schism, and has resulted in threats of violence against Robinson himself (he wore a bulletproof vest to the elevation ceremony). But with his beloved husband Mark at his side, Robinson continues to calmly make the case that who you love doesn't determine whether God loves you. MORE

In Love Free or Die, Robinson’s story parallels the conversation underway in many American churches about whether gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people are equal to heterosexuals in the eyes of God, and also the debate in legislatures and courthouses across the nation as to whether LGBT people are entitled to equal status under the law.

His ministry takes him from the tiny rural churches of rural New Hampshire all the way to the national stage, when he was chosen by President-elect Barack Obama to deliver the invocation at his 2009 inauguration. Sometimes he is shouted down when he is leading prayers; he has received more death threats than he can count. He also receives calls from young gay Christians who draw strength, hope, and courage from Robinson’s example.

But Robinson’s elevation has reverberated through not only the American Episcopal church, but beyond, to the Anglican Communion as well. With the threat of a schism ever-present, dozens of socially and theologically conservative congregations voted to separate from the church and align with conservative bishops from the Southern hemisphere, a move the leadership has thus far prevented. As the pressure built, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, pointedly did not invite Robinson to Lambeth Palace in 2008 for the once-a-decade conference of the world’s bishops. Robinson took his message to the media outside.

Robinson has announced his intentions to retire from the church at 65, and will continue his work as a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, his legacy continues to be written daily across one of the world’s oldest Christian traditions. He also continues the conversation about LGBT rights in his book God Believes in Love: Straight Talk About Gay Marriage, answering questions like “Why gay marriage now?”, “What’s wrong with civil unions?”, and “Doesn’t the Bible condemn homosexuality?”, and makes the case for same-sex marriage as a man of faith.

The Filmmaker

Macky Alston’s film Hard Road Home aired on Independent Lens in 2008. His other films include The Killer Within, Questioning Faith, and Family Name (which aired on POV in 1998). Alston also serves as Director of Auburn Media at Auburn Theological Seminary, dedicated to informed and engaging coverage of religion in the media. LESS

Film Credits

Macky Alston

Sandra Itkoff

Editor & Co-Producer
Christopher White

Director of Photography
Tom Hurwitz, ASC

Peter J. Miller

Paul Brill

Associate Producer & Publicist
John Murphy

Associate Producer & Post Production Supervisor
Julia Mintz

Additional Camera
Avi Kastoriano
Axel Bauman
Nina Davenport
Dan Densch
Brian Dowley
Jay Gillespie
Kathy Huang
Shaun Kadlec
Jacob Okada

Additional Sound
Alan Barker
Jay Maurer
Mark Roy
Jt Takagi
Blake Windham

Production Managers
Angela Martenez
Joy Smith

Production Assistants
Jay Gillespie
Sophie Goggins
Hal Moskowitz
Erin Reese

Judith Aley
Allan Baldwin
Sophie Goggins
Joy Smith

Sound Editor
Mary Ellen Porto

Dialogue Editor
Esther Regelson

Online Editor/Colorist
Jon Fordham

Online Facility
Frame:Runner, Inc.

Title Design
Gil Nevo

Graphics & End Credits
Victor Barroso

Music Recorded & Produced by
Paul Brill

Music Recording Studio
Casa de Rico y Luca Studios

Additional Recording by
Pat Dillett


Ukulele, French Horn, Acoustic & Electric Bass
Rob Jost

Yair Evnine

Matt Ray

Drums & Percussion
Bill Dobrow

Oboe & English Horn
Katie Scheele

Re-recording Mixer
Reilly Steele

Sound Mix Facility
Sound One

Legal Counsel
Karen Shatzkin
Jaime Wolf

Digitizing Assistant
Ryan Beickert

Edit Room Intern
Erin Reese

Print Designer
Kala Kollanyi

Trailer Editor
Chris Foster

Festival Coordinator
Darin Darakananda

Archival Media

The Anglican Church
Anglican Church of North America
Associated Press
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Comedy Central
The Episcopal Church
The Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire
Fox News
Gay Vicars, Princess Productions
Glenn Beck, Fox News Channel
Integrity USA
ITN Source
ITN Source/Reuters
Lambeth Press
Gillian Laub
NBC Universal Archives
The Official Inaugural Celebration, HBO
Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, PBS
The Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson
Saddleback Church
Thought Equity Motion/BBC Motion Gallery
Thought Equity Motion/CBS News
The Wall Street Journal
WNYC Radio

Special Thanks to

The people who agreed to be filmed & their families

Our families who supported us as we filmed

Mike Barwell
Shannon Bell
Paula Bibber
Kelly Brennan
Louise Brooks, Harry Knox, Max Niedwicki, Susan Russell, and Integrity USA
Jeanine Caunt
Samuel Chu and California Faith for Equality
Leonard Cox
Barbara Curry
Mona Davis
Jonathan Diamond
Sandi DuBowski
Chris Eyden and Joseph Hawes
Beadie Finzi, Jess Search, and the GoodPitch
Lewis Flinn
Neva Rae Fox and Mike Collins
Brad Fuller
Eric Garcetti and Amy Wakeland
Nicholas Gottlieb
Sharon Groves, Harry Knox, Joe Solmonese, and the Human Rights Campaign
Matthew Hamachek
Katharine Rhodes Henderson and the staff of Auburn Seminary
Stephen Henderson and James LaForce
Holy Apostles Episcopal Church
Rick Jacobs and Shaun Kadlec
Jeff Krehely, Sally Steenland, Jon Podesta, and The Center for American Progress
Lynn Kirby
Philippa Kowarsky
Wendy Levy and the Bay Area Video Coalition
Keli Meyer
Sung Park and Believe Out Loud
Leslie Pomerantz
Kim Powers
Radical Avid
Rogue Post
Keith Shapiro
Chris Souvlis
Rebecca Voelkel and the Institute for Welcoming Resources/NGLTF
Ari Wallach
Juliet Weber
Evan Wolfson, Marc Solomon, and Freedom to Marry

Fiscal Sponsor
Hartley Film Foundation

Executive Producer for ITVS
Sally Jo Fifer

Major funding for this program provided by
Ford Foundation
Abby Shuman
E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation
Windmill Lane Foundation
The Mark D. Hostetter & Alexander N. Habib Foundation
The Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program
Blake Franklin
Susan Reed

Additional funding provided by
Johnson Family Foundation
Mary Duke Biddle Foundation
The Rev. John E. Denaro
Timothy Palmer
Diana L. Reed
The Rev. Dr. Jon Walton

Love Free or Die is a co-production of Reveal Productions, Inc.
and the Independent Television Service (ITVS),
with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

This program was produced by Reveal Productions, Inc.,
which is solely responsible for its content.

© 2012 Reveal Productions, Inc. All rights reserved.

Much of the arguments surrounding homosexuality and Christianity center around the Old Testament, much of which is routinely ignored in modern Christian life. When you wonder, "What would Jesus do?," what do you believe is the answer?
Much of the arguments surrounding homosexuality and Christianity center around the Old Testament, much of which is routinely ignored in modern Christian life. When you wonder, "What would Jesus do?," what do you believe is the answer?