Popular TV hunk John Stamos stars in Wedding Wars, a 2006 TV movie in which the LGBTQ community goes on strike for the right to marry. Though the SCOTUS decision legalizing queer marriage at the federal level was nearly a decade away, the issue of same-gender marriage was very much on the table at this point. Through humor and pathos, Wedding Wars addresses the issue head on.
Shel (Stamos) is an openly gay party planner, madly in love with his boyfriend Ted (gay actor Sean Maher). Shel is delighted when his brother Ben (Eric Dane) asks him to serve as wedding planner; Ben is engaged to Maggie (Bonnie Somerville), the governor’s daughter. When the governor (James Brolin), who’s up for reelection, publicly states that he’s against LGBTQ marriage, Shel refuses to continue planning Ben’s wedding.
Shel, who had always been apolitical, surprises everyone. He sets up camp in front of the governor’s mansion and stages a one-man protest, which captures the attention of a local TV station. After Shel is ridiculed on the air, dozens of gay men and lesbians join his protest. Shel soon finds himself on the cover of The Advocate, the country’s leading gay news magazine. The protest spreads to all fifty states, with gay people walking off their jobs, demanding the right to marry.
Ben, in addition to marrying the governor’s daughter, is also a speechwriter for the reelection campaign. He asks Shel to stop.
Shel sums it all up in one sentence: “I just want the same thing you have.”
There are many touching moments throughout the film, such as when Ted drives to the mansion late at night to make sure that Shel, who is camping out at his post 24/7, has blankets and pillows. Ted places a blanket upon Shel and gently kisses him.
Shel’s stand forces him to come out to his parents. At first it’s difficult for all three of them, but they love each other. Shel, much to his delighted surprise, gets his parents’ support. Unfortunately, things don’t go so well between Shel and Ben. Though the brothers also love each other, Ben remains uncomfortable with Shel’s sexuality, and is embarrassed at how Shel has caused the gay marriage issue to become front-page news.
Maggie is not happy with Ben’s attitude; she gets the film’s best line: “You and your brother have something in common,” she tells Ben. “Neither of you is having sex with a woman tonight!”
Stamos, best known for his long running role on the sitcom Full House, is quite good in his first gay role. He beautifully conveys Shel’s anger at the injustice of not having the same rights as everyone else. At first he stumbles a bit, but as his campaign picks up steam, he becomes more confident and self-assured. Stamos also gets able support from a fine cast.
Now that we have marriage and a level of visibility that we never had before, Wedding Wars might be viewed by some as passé. Don’t be too quick to write the film off. In addition to serving as a reminder of a battle we fought not that long ago, the movie is a sweet and charming delight. It remains well worth a look.
Wedding Wars can be found on DVD through Amazon.