Love and Loss: Why Marriage Equality Matters

marriageI have been trying to sort out the events of the past few weeks and come up with something comforting or encouraging to share after the unexpected loss of my wife Yvette to metastatic breast cancer. The words just are not there yet but I do have some thanks to extend and a smallish rant to get off my heavy heart.

To those who have reached out in many ways, I say thank you. The good thoughts and support being showered upon our family is nothing short of amazing. The outpouring of love has made our grief bearable and is so appreciated.

When a spouse passes, life changes. Same sex couples have had a hard road. Our story and marriage ended well before any of us ever expected. However, because of the hard work and commitment of those on the front lines in the fight for marriage equality, our load was lighter than it could have been.

Within the past five years, the fight for marriage equality and legal protections for same sex couples moved at light speed. The legal documents drawn up when we came out and became a couple offered us as much protection possible and gave us the ability to advocate for one another in the case of illness or in an emergency; but it was not marriage.

Spousal Rights

While in the hospital with my wife, I was keenly aware of and grateful for the legal protections afforded to us as a married couple. Wife and wife. We had enough on our plates but wondering if I would be asked to leave the room or be able to speak with the doctors about her prognosis was not a concern.

In the quiet moments my mind would drift to imaginings of what this situation would have been like had it happened only a few years ago. Of all the things I could be thinking, this was on a running loop. I would never have been allowed to sign a DNR or look at her chart were it not for those who paved the way for equality.

She was the activist in the household. For those who knew Yvette, her passion for social justice and equality was well established. Since we became a couple, she was determined to do whatever she could to help fight for women’s rights, marriage equality, or help those who were sick, homeless, or a member of the four legged furry contingent.

As a photographer, she donated her time and talent to cover the Equality Florida Orlando Gala for the past 5 years. This event was among her favorites. She loved the energy and the amazing people who were working so hard to make sure we were heard and seen. In fact, she shot the event just two weeks prior to going to the hospital.

Through the years, many of the honored guests shared nightmare stories about unaccepting families refusing to let their loved one’s same sex partner be included in decision making or flat out rejecting them and asking them to leave. It happens more than you think.

I thought often of what it would have been like for my wife and I had this been the reality for either of us. When marriage was legalized nationally, we knew we would never have to face the fate as many same sex couples in the not so distant past.

Gratefully, we were able to deal with the situation at hand without having to prove who I was to her and whether or not I had the right to make decisions for her.

We were fortunate enough to benefit from the tireless efforts of organizations like Equality Florida and the many others who believe and fight for those who are being discriminated against because of who they choose to love.

Marriage equality is still not readily accepted by many religions and individuals who believe marriage should be only between a man and a woman. For now, we agree to disagree with that section of humanity. If you happen to be on the fence about this topic, put your foot in my hand so I can offer a boost to clear the fence.

Sanctity of Marriage

If it offends your conscience, then same sex marriage is not for you but fighting so that others cannot have it is not an option. Or as my wife would often say, “fuck em.” My marriage did not take away one iota of sanctity from any of those who are in straight marriages.

The ongoing discourse and argument about whether or not same sex couples should be allowed to marry continues despite a Supreme Court decision in 2014. For some it will never be accepted as anything other than an abomination. Respecting marriage as a civil right is the only leap that needs to be taken.

My wife was everything to me. The love we shared was deep, abiding, and real. Two women. In love. Married. It was a beautiful thing. Period. The sanctity of marriage is not determined by the sex of those in the relationship but rather in the commitment and love toward one another.

I have a long way to go before I know how to navigate life without my best friend and wife by my side. For now, the task at hand is to make sure her “party when I die”, her words, not mine, is everything she envisioned.

marriageMany have asked about what they can do for me. I simply ask that you honor her request for people to love more. All the time. Love until you cannot possibly love any more, and then love some more. Yvette was my wife and the most loving human being I have ever met. I miss her terribly. Our time was limited but the love is infinite and knowing this will help us continue to do the hard things and lessen our pain in some small way.

Love is love.



  1. Just beautiful, Dawn. I am so glad that the hospital gave you and Yvette the respect and the rights to which you are entitled. You and Yvette, were – and are – very special.

  2. May God continue to help you forward in loving your beautiful family. My sister lives in deltona. She is a really good caterer for the party if you need one. But I’ll continue to find new ways to Love my wife everyday. And holder tighter in the prayerful thoughts of being there forever. God bless you all.

  3. Dawn

    I can’t imagine the way your heart feels now. I am at a loss for you I only know you and Yvette from your book but I do know what it feels like to love and to lose not through death but just the loss of someone you love. The permanence of what you are feeling is unfathomable to me. I am however glad that right now you were able to have some say in her care and in her final days. I pray for your healing and respect your braveness. Thank you for sharing your life.

    Kat Kohl

  4. I am sorry I never met Yvette or you. I lost my husband and best friend after only five and a half months. I understand your pain. God created us in His image and wants us to love one another.

  5. Dawn, I cannot find words to express my sorrow for what you are feeling, but I can see how being legally married made parts of it smoother along the way. We must all unite in the quest to make being LGBTQ just part of everyday life, not something to be fought for or against. Continuing the fight in Yvette’ s memory.

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