John M. Becker

Why Marriage Matters [Vol 732,994]

Filed By John M. Becker | September 18, 2013 1:15 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: civil unions, Derence Kernek, Ed Watson, gay marriage, Illinois, marriage discrimination, marriage equality, relationship recognition, Robert Smith, same-sex marriage, Shane Bitney Crone, Steven Rynes, Tom Bridegroom

rynes_smith_illinois.jpgSome 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.

Here's hoping that stories like these give lawmakers in Illinois the kick in the pants they need to do the right thing. How many more have to die -- how many more hearts have to be broken -- before marriage equality for LGBT people, couples, and families is fully realized?

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