CHICAGO September 18, 2013 Illinois Unites for Marriage released a video today featuring the story of Robb Smith and Steven Rynes, a loving and committed couple whose union was cut short by Steve's death. Because the Illinois House of Representatives has failed to enact the freedom to marry, Steve died before he and Robb could be married as Steve had wished.
Their inability to marry in Illinois compounded the couple's anguish, denying them more than a thousand federal protections available to married couples in the wake of the Supreme Court's June ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
Robb and Steve had been together since Christmas Day 2011 and entered into a civil union in Illinois in January 2013. While 13 other states enacted marriage equality but Illinois did not, Steve developed Stage 3 Melanoma and grew seriously ill. By the time it became clear how sick Steve was, it was too late for the couple even to travel out-of-state to get married.
Steve died last week on September 10th, 2013. He was 32.
"People are dying without being equal," said Robb. "I don't understand it, and Steve never did understand it. And he never will."
Senate Bill 10 the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act won overwhelming passage in the Illinois Senate in February and awaits action in the Illinois House of Representatives. Illinois Unites for Marriage already strong with business, labor and community leaders, civic organizations, faith institutions and clergy, African-American and Latino leaders, Republicans and Democrats continues to grow.
The video concludes with the message "Marriage can't wait. For Steven Rynes, it's too late."
Information about the legislation is available at www.illinoisunites.org, along with information about how citizens can make their voices heard. Robert and Steve's video can be viewed at: youtu.be/j8_ZX7_tK68 .