#EqualLoveEqualRights: GLAAD Working with Campaign Founder Shane Bitney Crone
Shane Bitney Crone & Tom Bridegroom were a loving and committed couple, together for almost six years. They started a business, bought a home, traveled the world and adopted a puppy together.
When Shane & Tom decided that they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together, they also made the decision to come out to their families. While Shane's family was happy he'd found the love of his life, unfortunately Tom's family was not supportive. Upon learning that his son was gay, Tom's father threatened him with a gun and physically attacked him. Tom's mother told him that being gay is a 'sin' and blamed Shane for 'making' him gay.
Despite parental rejection, Tom forged ahead in building a life with Shane. In December 2010, Tom gave Shane a promise ring, along with a note that read, in part, "I have a feeling 2011 will change our lives forever! Love forever & always, Tom" The couple vowed to marry when their relationship would be legally recognized. (Currently marriage equality is not legal in California because of the discriminatory Proposition (Prop.) 8.)
On May 7, 2011, Shane's life did change forever when his beloved Tom fell from a rooftop while photographing a friend. Tom was pronounced dead later that evening. He was just 29 years old.
As if grieving the loss of his partner wasn't difficult enough, Shane suffered even more pain at the hands of Tom's family. During a layover on his way to Indiana for Tom's funeral service, one family member called Shane to tell him he was not welcome at the funeral. He was advised that Tom's father had planned an attack should he show up. Fearing for his safety, Shane did not attend the funeral and burial services for his beloved Tom.
Had Shane & Tom been able to marry, Shane would have had access to information from the hospital about what happened to Tom. He also would not have been prevented from making important decisions, such as deciding where Tom should be buried.
On May 6, 2012, the eve of the one-year anniversary of Tom's death, Shane uploaded a YouTube video that tells this story in poignant and heartbreaking detail. In just two weeks, the video (called "It Could Happen to You") has received more than 2.4 million views on YouTube.
In the last two weeks, many more millions of Americans have had the opportunity to hear from Shane about the concrete harms of marriage inequality through interviews with CNN, The Insider (see 8:15) and KABC-7, the local ABC affiliate in Los Angeles. Shane has also created a Facebook page and a Twitter campaign called #EqualLoveEqualRights, both of which are meant to raise awareness on the importance of marriage equality. Celebrites the likes of Fran Drescher and Cher have been using Twitter to show their support for Shane and his campaign. Click here to follow Shane on Twitter.
Shane also hopes that every committed couple will take the time to create a trust/will so that both partners' final wishes are in place.
GLAAD staff have been working closely with Shane to make sure his story is heard accurately. It is our hope that Shane's story will continue to raise awareness about the importance of marriage for all loving and committed couples who want to take care of and be responsible for each other.