Some of the most heartbreaking stories in the fight for marriage equality are the stories of couples who didn't make it -- where one member of a same-sex couple dies before they have the chance to legally marry the person they love.
It happened to Derence Kernek and Ed Watson, a California couple who wanted to marry but was parted by death a year and a half before the Supreme Court brought a final end to Proposition 8.
It happened to Shane Bitney Crone, whose beloved Tom Bridegroom died tragically before they were allowed to marry and who, as a result, was shut out of Tom's funeral by his anti-gay family.
And it happened to 32-year-old Steven Rynes, who dreamed of marrying his partner Robert Smith in their home state of Illinois but died of stage 3 melanoma as an equal marriage bill stalled in the state legislature.
In a poignant video produced by the Illinois Unites for Marriage coalition, Smith tells their story and pleads with lawmakers to finally make Illinois a marriage equality state:
"[Steven] wanted one thing in his whole life and that was to get married, and he didn't get it -- and he will never get it now...
Thousands of us have probably missed out [on marriage] just in Illinois. People are dying without... being equal."
Watch Steven and Robert's beautiful and heartbreaking story, after the jump.