A Union in Wait

A Union in Wait
Directed by Ryan Butler
Produced by Ryan Butler
Narrated by Lisa Howes Yewdall
Music by Jason Schuler
Cinematography Richard Clabaugh
Brian Nisbett
Edited by Thomas Berndt
Distributed by Frameline, Sundance Channel
Release dates
  • April 12, 2001 (2001-04-12) (Turin)
Running time
45 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $15,000

A Union in Wait is a 2001 documentary film about same-sex marriage, directed by Ryan Butler. It was the first documentary about same-sex marriage to air on national television in the United States.[1]


Susan Parker and Wendy Scott are members of Wake Forest Baptist Church. In 1997 the couple decided they wanted to have a union ceremony in Wake Forest University's Wait Chapel, but the traditionally Baptist university told them no. Susan Parker, Wendy Scott, their church, and many others joined together to fight the school's decision in what would become a controversy that divided a community in North Carolina and made national headlines.[2][3][4][5][6]

The film includes interviews with Andrew Sullivan, Barney Frank, Robert Knight, Jimmy Creech, Fred Phelps, Candace Gingrich, Wake Forest University students, and local ministers. The film was shot primarily in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, on the campus of Wake Forest University; but portions of the film were shot in Washington, D.C., at the Millennium March on Washington, Family Research Council headquarters, and Andrew Sullivan's house.


In 2001, the Sundance Channel licensed the film for television in the United States. A Union In Wait was also shown at numerous festivals around the world and distributed on video by Frameline.[7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14] In 2015 Amazon Video made the film available online.[15]

Subsequent developments

Susan Parker (front, right) and Wendy Scott (left) stand in front of Wake Forest University's Wait Chapel in this production still from A Union In Wait.

Susan Parker (M.Div.) now serves as the Associate Pastor of Wake Forest Baptist Church.[16][17] Ryan Butler worked as a television editor in Washington, DC after the release of A Union In Wait for WJLA-TV, National Geographic Channel and CNN. He was also elected to the Advisory Neighborhood Commission in Washington, DC. In 2009 he moved back to North Carolina where he is now working for the North Carolina General Assembly.[18]


  1. Best "Same Sex Union" Titles
  2. Burger, Mark (23 February 2001). Film tackles controversy around same-sex ceremony, Winston-Salem Journal
  3. Cridlin, Jay (8 February 2001). Film on same-sex union controversy to debut in Pugh Archived December 14, 2005, at the Wayback Machine., Old Gold & Black
  4. Bland, Elizabeth (22 February 2001). Film revisits same-sex union controversy Archived November 17, 2003, at the Wayback Machine., Old Gold & Black
  5. (12 September 1999). Wake Forest says no to same sex weddings, Spartanburg Herald-Journal (Associated Press story)
  6. (26 September 2000).Couple `united' at Wake Forest's Wait Chapel, The Chronicle (Duke University)
  7. (21 October 2001). Documentary on conflict over gay union being aired, Winston-Salem Journal
  8. Covington,Lewis. National Coming Out Day on Sundance, etcetera (Retrieved February 20, 2012, notes film playing on Sundance channel)
  9. (9 February 2001). Same-sex ceremony at WFU subject of documentary film, Winston-Salem Journal
  10. 9 August 2002. RHODE ISLAND INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL - What's showing, The Providence Journal (confirming that film was presented at the Rhode Island International Film Festival in 2002; "A Union in Wait, documentary about a lesbian couple whose attempt to have a union ceremony in a college chapel divided a North Carolina town.")
  11. (9 November 2001) Gay/Lesbian film fest has lots of variety, The Spokesman-Review (confirming film was presented at the Spokane Gay & Lesbian Film Festival in 2001)
  12. (3 May 2001). FESTIVAL SCHEDULE & FILM GUIDE, Baltimore Sun (confirming presentation of film at Maryland Film Festival in 2001)
  13. A Union In Wait, Great Lakes Independent Film Festival (2002), Retrieved February 20, 2012
  14. Jenkins, Mark (October 2001). A Union In Wait (brief review), Washington City Paper
  15. "Amazon.com:A Union In Wait". Retrieved 2015-02-24.
  16. Parker, Susan & Yarber, Angela (3 February 2012). Opinion: Joining Baptists in defeating NC Amendment One, Associated Baptist Press
  17. "Forest Baptist Church, Pastors". Retrieved 2008-06-11.
  18. "North Carolina General Assembly - Senate Members & Respective Legislative Assistants (2011-2012 Session)". Archived from the original on 2011-06-28. Retrieved 2011-05-10.

External links

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