Liz Molina, a 35-year-old woman in Florida died from cervical cancer last week, just days before before her partner Joan Rodriguez was due to give birth to their son, Liam.
During her final days, she and her family fought bravely for the right to love and marry, but the same-sex marriage ban in Florida has yet to be overturned. She died without being legally recognized as a wife and mother.
We don’t always think of marriage equality as a life-or-death issue, but make no mistake, it was exactly that for Liz and countless other gay couples who are struck by tragedy every year. Liz’s health insurance was canceled. Because she and her partner were not married, she was unable to receive life-extending treatments for four months.
The day Liz died, Joan wrote her a letter:
“[I know you] wanted so desperately to enjoy our son. I promise to teach Liam all about you. He will know his history. He will know how loved and desired he was by you. He will always know how strong and resilient you were for him and how hard you fought to be able to be here for him.
I will make sure he knows that his name means strong-willed warrior and that it is a perfect representation of his family. We may not have been able to get married legally or have you adopt our son legally before you left us, but we will always be a family.”
Liz, Joan and Liam will never experience the fulfillment of being recognized as a complete family, but their love and passion for the fight for equality lives on. Even as Liz fought for her life, she and Joan advocated for same-sex marriage and basic rights that come with marriage equality. Last month Liz spoke to the Orange County Commission and helped persuade them to support Equality Florida’s lawsuit for marriage equality.
Here’s what she had to say:
Equality Florida has launched a campaign to help pay for Liz’s medical bills and funeral, and the cost of Joan’s pregnancy.
Jorge Goytizolo in Ft. Lauderdale is fighting a similar battle. His husband, Philip Parrish, passed away last May from an aggressive form of brain cancer. Even after 15 years together and a year of a marriage with newborn babies, authorities in Florida have refused to list Jorge as a spouse on Philip’s death certificate. Florida refuses to recognize their union and has said that same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.
He’s helping fight for other couples. “I know it is too late for me – but I ask Governor Scott to lift the ban on same-sex marriage so other couples can not go through the same worries I am going through at this time. Please, let them marry.” Listen to his powerful plea to Gov. Rick Scott below:
[Image Credit: Equality Florida]