shane bitney crone tom bridegroom 300x210 Devastating Video: It Could Happen to YouFor the past two weeks I’ve been reading through stories people have sent in about how DOMA hurts them and the ones they love, in preparation for articles I’m writing. To the last one, they’ve brought me to tears. Here is one more story to add to the list — and it’s absolutely heartbreaking.

One year ago yesterday, Shane Bitney Crone’s boyfriend of six years, Tom Bridegroom, died tragically. To mark the anniversary of Tom’s death, Shane made a video, titled It Could Happen to You, detailing the dehumanizing mistreatment he endured and the gut-wrenching reality of life without the person he loves, in a country that regards them as total strangers.

As Andy Towle said when posting Shane’s video, it’s a powerful account of the painful familial rejection, the unjust institutional discrimination, and the omnipresent bias that gay couples face every day.

(WARNING: Do not watch this anywhere that you aren’t comfortable dissolving into tears, because you will.)

On a completely personal note, I admire Shane Bitney Crone more than I can possibly express. I don’t know if I could face even one day without my dear husband Michael, and the thought of ever having to find out is the only thing in life that truly terrifies me. I can’t imagine how Shane is able to speak out like this, but I’m sure glad he found the strength. His story should serve as a reminder to LGBT people about the importance of protecting our relationships, because what happened to him really could happen to any one of us. It also illustrates the power of telling our stories, which Shane correctly describes as “one of the most effective ways to change people’s hearts and minds.” Finally, this video provides yet another example of the galling injustice of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act,” constitutional marriage discrimination amendments like the one on the ballot today in North Carolina, and the religion-based bigotry that justifies the unconscionable way families like Tom’s often treat the surviving same-sex spouses and partners of their deceased children.

Stories like Shane and Tom’s happen every day. How many more hearts have to be broken before equality for LGBT people, couples, and families is fully realized and the scourge of religion-based bigotry is eradicated forever?