New Video from Freedom to Marry, Devotion Project Features Couple’s Bittersweet 50+ Year Journey

6/5/2013

Press Contact:

Nicole Collins Bronzan
Communications Director, Freedom to Marry
nicole@freedomtomarry.org
646-375-2044

New York – With decisions expected this month in the two marriage cases before the Supreme Court, Freedom to Marry and the Devotion Project released an online video featuring Bill Campbell and John Hilton, a New York couple together 54 years. Hilton worked for Otis Elevator Company for 23 years and later moved into the nonprofit sector, including work for the International Planned Parenthood Federation, while Campbell used his knowledge of over five foreign languages to oversee the production of language textbooks for 25 years and teach ESL to students both in America and abroad.

The video is the second in a series of collaborations between Freedom to Marry and the Devotion Project spotlighting the importance of marriage for committed same-sex couples. It can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sb2Pi5M4LEE&feature=youtu.be

The narrative follows the couple’s relationship through the years, from meeting in the 1950s as young men, to writing letters during Hilton’s military deployment, to growing older together, with Hilton helping Campbell through the early stages of Parkinson’s disease. At the time of filming, in April 2011, the men were registered as domestic partners in New York, waiting for the day they could marry there and have their marriage treated equally by the federal government. Bill died the next month, however, just seven weeks before New York passed freedom to marry legislation.

“The bond between Bill and John was unmistakable, a true testament to the depth of love that two people can share,” said Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry. "They show us why lifelong commitment means so much. It’s truly tragic that Bill never had the chance to marry the love of his life and it’s a reminder of the human toll of requiring committed couples to wait to be able to marry. The time for the freedom to marry nationwide is now.”

“Bill Campbell and John Hilton. What can I say?” Hilton said. “To be loved for 54 years by the person you love is the greatest gift of them all. Not one false moment in all those years.

“When we first met, I was his project. He introduced me to a cultural treasure-house I never knew about. And I introduced him to the ‘popular’ side of culture. A marriage made in heaven. And then when he was diagnosed with early Parkinson’s disease in 2008, he became my project. I had a chance for three years to pay him back for giving me a life! It was the best three years of our life together.

"Our commitment was unshakeable – no government could tell us what we meant to each other. But I know Bill would have liked to see the day we could be married, with equal treatment at the federal level.”

The video will be featured at the following panel, hosted by Freedom to Marry and Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE):

WHAT: The Harms of Marriage Discrimination: Older Same-Sex Couples and DOMA

WHO:
• Michael Adams, executive director, Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders
• Sarah L. Byrne, senior legislative representative, Alliance for Retired Americans
• Dr. Yanira Cruz, president and CEO of the National Hispanic Council on Aging
• Paul Nathanson, executive director, National Senior Citizens Law Center
• Web Phillips, senior legislative representative, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare
• Hilary Rosen, managing director, SKDKnickerbocker
• Stacy Sanders, federal policy director, Medicare Rights Center
• Thomas Sciacca, NY attorney with expertise in estate and disability planning
• Imani Woody, LGBT senior and director and founder of Mary’s House for Older Adults

WHEN: Monday, June 10
9 a.m.-10:30 a.m. ET

WHERE: The National Press Club
529 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20045
The Zenger Room

**Please RSVP to angela@freedomtomarry.org.

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Freedom to Marry is the campaign to win marriage nationwide. We are pursuing our Roadmap to Victory by working to win the freedom to marry in more states, grow the national majority for marriage, and end federal marriage discrimination. We partner with individuals and organizations across the country to end the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage and the protections, responsibilities, and commitment that marriage brings.