If seven decades of commitment isn’t marriage, I don’t know what is.
William Campbell and John Hilton were together in the 50s, the 60s, the 70s, the 80s, the 90s, the 2000s, and the 2010s - a romance that spanned 54 years of love.
This video, produced by Freedom to Marry and The Devotion Project, leads us through Bill and John's life together, tracking the moment they met, the months where Bill wrote letters to John during John's military deployment, and the ways that John helped Bill through the early stages of Parkinson's disease. It was shot in April 2011, when the men were registered as domestic partners in New York, hopeful that someday soon, they would be able to marry in their state and have their marriage treated equally by the federal government.
Just seven weeks before New York passed legislation to end the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage, however, Bill passed away. He and John were never able to legally marry - and to this day, John watches as anti-marriage laws across the country continue to harm loving same-sex couples.
In reflection of this new video, John explained more about his love for Bill. He said:
Bill Campbell and John Hilton. What can I say? 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.
It's tragic that Bill and John were not able to marry in New York - and it's tragic that Bill did not live to see the day when the central part of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act was struck down, in June 2013. This couple's story is 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.