It Could Happen To You...

Shane Bitney Crone (left), Tom Bridegroom (right)

If you have time (and a few tissues handy) be sure to watch the heartbreaking story of Shane Bitney Crone  and Tom Bridegroom, a young gay couple whose world was torn apart when Tom died in accident last year.

What's worse is that Tom's very religious and conservative family not only rejected him while he was alive--his father pointed a gun at him and called him a sinner--but after his death kept Crone from being involved in the funeral service and threatened him with violence if he came. Like many gay couples the two didn't have a will and were of course unmarried, leaving Crone little to no legal recourse. He wasn't even able to learn the details of how his boyfriend died, being that he wasn't family. Watch the video and get my thoughts after the jump.

While there are clearly other important issues affecting our community--HIV/AIDS, employment and housing discrimination, hate crimes, adoption-- and said issues should get and keep our attention, this video makes a gut-wrenching case as to why marriage equality is so important. I know there are some of us in the black LGBT community who tend to dismiss marriage as a "white" thing, or a high class problem that only rich gay boys and girls in Chelsea or Castro care about.

You may or may not be in a relationship right now, but think about it for a second: what if something happened to you or your partner today? Would your family allow them to come into the hospital to see you? If the two of you agreed the other would be in charge if something happened, would they have a voice? Would they let them have a say in planning your funeral and respect your wishes? Would they try to take everything that's in your name--the house, the car--because your boyfriend or girlfriend wasn't "family?" Is your man's family supportive of his sexuality? Is he even out to his family?

Yes race remains an aspect of gay life that is often overlooked or ignored. Yes the white gay community needs to be more involved and reach out more to the black community, straight and gay alike--an open letter of support to Trayvon Martin's family signed by GLAAD, NBJC, HRC, Lambda Legal and others being a step in the right direction. And yes some activists do seem to have a myopic view that being hitched is the only thing that matters. But there's nothing white, black or brown about being shut out and erased from your loved's one life, and possibly losing all that the two of you worked for with no legal way of fighting back. Shane and Tom's story, and others like it, are the reason we need equal protection under the law.