In many ways, Tim Love and Larry Ysunza are the perfect plaintiffs to stand up against Kentucky's ban on marriage for same-sex couples: They've been together for more than 34 years, they've supported each other in times of hardship and celebrated in times of joy, and they need to be able to protect each other as they get older.
Throw in Tim's especially fitting last name and the fact that they filed their case - Love v. Beshear, brought by Fauver Law Office (led by primary attorneys Shannon Fauver and Dawn Elliot, with further involvement from Clay Daniel Walton & Adams attorneys Dan Cannon, Laura Landenwich and L. Joe Dunman) - on February 14, Valentine's Day - and something about their case resonates far and wide.
On July 1 of this year, Tim and Larry - plus one other unmarried same-sex couple in Kentucky - prevailed in their case when Judge Heyburn struck down anti-marriage laws altogether, following his previous ruling saying that marriages performed in other states must be legally respected in Kentucky.
Love literally won the case.
Tim and Larry know first-hand how important it is to be married and respected as such in their home state: Last summer, Tim's doctor discovered two major blockages in his heart, and she told him to go directly to the hospital. At the hospital, doctors told Tim that they would not even administer the perfunctory stress test, saying it was too risky.
"That's when it hit us," Tim said. "Here were are: We had always thought about the day that we'd start having health concerns, but we never took care of it - you don't think that one day you're going to be 55 years old and have heart issues."
Tim and Larry didn't have any paperwork in order authorizing Larry to make medical decisions for Tim, so they had to rush to make sure everything was in order - medical power of attorney and related paperwork.
Just minutes before heading into surgery, Tim and Larry finalized the necessary documents so that Larry could make decisions for his partner of three decades.
"You just don't think about things like that - and why should you have to?" Tim said. "We had a civil union from 2007 in Vermont, but that wasn't respected in Kentucky. You shouldn't have to draw up all of this extra paperwork - especially at such a stressful time. Other married couples don't even have to think twice about that issue - they know that their husband or wife can make those decisions for them."
The scare at the hospital - and the continued surgeries that Tim will face over the next several years - was the catalyst for Tim and Larry getting involved in the fight for marriage in Kentucky - but now that they're invested, they're ready to keep speaking out for equality. They know that it's time for for all love to be treated with the same respect and dignity.
They are a couple in every sense - and Kentucky is their home: It's where they met 34 years ago. It's where they fell in love and built a life together. It's where they worked together to take care of Tim's mother for the last 13 years of her life. And it's where they want to marry.
Winning at the next step at the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals - alongside plaintiffs in five other marriage cases (including a related case in Kentucky, Bourke v. Beshear) - will be vindication for their many years together in Kentucky. But more than anything, Tim and Larry are excited to be a part of this exciting movement.
"We're really lucky to be one of the couples representing all of the same-sex couples in the state of Kentucky," Tim said. "We're just thrilled to be a part of it."