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Prop 8 trial: In memory of Ed Watson

Community/Meta Prop 8 trial

Coverage of today’s hearings will begin just before 2:30 PM PST, but please allow this interruption of coverage to remember Ed Watson as we consider today’s events.

By Adam Bink

We at Courage Campaign Institute just found out that yesterday, Palm Springs resident Ed Watson passed.

If you’re not familiar with Ed and his connection, watch the video above. Ed, for many, became an important face of the human cost of delay in the Prop 8 trial, whom we got to know when we asked our members to share their stories of how waiting longer for a trial verdict would cause them more suffering. Ed, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, never got the chance to marry his partner of over 40 years you see in the video, Derence Kernek. He was the subject of a front-page Los Angeles Times profile on this topic earlier this year. Arisha wrote poignantly about them her trip to meet and videotape them here on

The 9th Circuit first heard the appeal of Judge Walker’s ruling striking down Prop 8 on December 6, 2010. Today is December 8, 2011. That’s over a year that Ed’s been waiting on this case. Waiting for the 9th Circuit to rule after December 6th. Then waiting while the 9th Circuit kicked the question of standing over to the California Supreme Court. Then waiting as the California Supreme Court agreed to hear the question and convene six months later. Then waiting the several months between that hearing and their verdict. And now waiting for a verdict from the 9th Circuit that has yet to come.

Words cannot express both the deep sadness for Ed and Derence as well as anger at the human toll of those who did nothing but love and care for each other for decades, then watched their rights stripped away by their neighbors at the ballot in November 2008 and a court system that, for people like Ed and Derence, worked too slowly, no matter which way it will eventually decide. It is unfair. It is grossly unfair. And it is painful.

We at Courage plan to send flowers to honor Ed’s memory. When we hear from Derence on where condolences can be sent, I will be sure to post it here. For now, if you want to join us in expressing your condolences to Derence, please post your thought in the comments and we will make sure Derence has a chance to see them.


  • 1. Drpatrick1  |  December 8, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    Words cannot describe….Please know your story touched so many. Thank you for sharing it with the world.

  • 2. Sagesse  |  December 8, 2011 at 12:52 pm


  • 3. Mike  |  December 8, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    So very sad to learn about Ed's passing. DJ and I offer our most sincere and warmest thoughts. Love and justice will prevail.

  • 4. dwpiper  |  December 8, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    I offer you my deepest sympathy Derence.

    Rest in peace, Ed, knowing that you were, and are, loved.

  • 5. bjasonecf  |  December 8, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    Derence, we are with you in spirit. Our fight for you and Ed will not end until we have won.

  • 6. fiona64  |  December 8, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    My condolences to Derence. I cannot express adequately how much I feel this loss. Rest in peace, Ed.

    There are real human costs to bigotry — and this is just more proof.

  • 7. Bob Barnes  |  December 8, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    We're all asked to be patient, but we all don't have the luxury of time. My condolences.

  • 8. Str8Grandmother  |  December 8, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    II am so deeply sorry for your loss Derence. Rest in Peace Ed, rest in peace, you are not forgotten, you touched many, myself included.

  • 9. AnonyGrl  |  December 8, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    Your story touched all of us here, and so many more. I cannot express how sorry I am for your loss. Thank you for sharing your lives with us, and we will keep on fighting in Ed's memory.

  • 10. thark  |  December 8, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    Their living together in love for 40 years means they saw some REALLY scary moments with NO public support should they have needed it.

    Love, no matter what.

    They remained together, in spite of incredibly mean-spirited odds, and survived just enough to prove to all future generations that the sort of love that leads to a promise if marriage and commitment, is precious, and that it is a moral abomination to vote against any two law-abiding citizens in love to secure their loving household, just like anyone would…

    God blessed this love or they wouldn't have made it this far…

  • 11. Chrys  |  December 8, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    My condolences to Derence.

    And this just illustrates further the great harm done by Prop 8 – these men who lived and loved together for this long should have been able to wed. And it is abhorrent to me that bigotry and hatred denied them that.

  • 12. [email protected]  |  December 8, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    My condolences to Derence. : (

    Prop8 and all others like it need to go.

  • 13. Gregory in SLC  |  December 8, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    Derence – Thank you for sharing your story with all of us. Your example of long-lasting love heartens me <3 I hope you are doing well and find peace and joy during this time until you can be re-united with Ed. Love and Tears….Gregory in Salt Lake City.

  • 14. johnfromco  |  December 8, 2011 at 1:43 pm


    A very sad day and evidence why this fight is so important. The people hurt aren't hypothetical people.

    I am glad that both Derence and Ed experienced true love. I can recognize love even if some cannot.

  • 15. loveruncaged  |  December 8, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Rest In Peace. Sending love and good vibrations to Ed's family and Derence.

  • 16. PhillyKarl  |  December 8, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    I am so sorry for your loss, Derence. Ed's life touched so many of us. That the two of you were denied such a fundamental right as marriage should sicken anyone with a heart not made of ice and stone. I will remember Ed Watson and continue to tell his story. Your story.

    Peace and Love.

  • 17. nightshayde  |  December 8, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    I'm so sorry for your loss, Derence.

  • 18. Prop 8 Trial Tracker &raq&hellip  |  December 8, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    […] already wrote about our friend Ed who died yesterday of complications associated with Alzheimer’s, waiting in vain […]

  • 19. jfed  |  December 8, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    No words can express the sadness nor anger reverberating throughout our community at this time. When we win this "right", you and Ed will be remembered as tow of our pioneers. Thank you for your sacrifice.
    I am in a battle with breast cancer right now, and my partner and I were "married" in San Francisco on February 15, 2004. We were on our honeymoon in Maui when that marriage was annulled. We moved to Oregon and are domestic partners, but can't get married here. I will never understand the thought process that bans our love. Marriage is a legal union – not a religious one. It's time to work on re-separating the two!

  • 20. Beth  |  December 8, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    Why didn't they get married back in 2008?

  • 21. Kalbo  |  December 8, 2011 at 3:19 pm


  • 22. Chris in Lathrop  |  December 8, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    I'm sad for Derence and their family. I can't even begin to imagine what it would be like to lose my life partner. Rest in peace, Ed.

  • 23. Terry  |  December 8, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    Derence, I am so sorry for your loss. You two were tied to one another for over 4 decades and I have overwhelming sadness at this time and frustration at our court system being so slow to act. I hope this goes across the nation as a reality check to the legal system that there is a human cost to the many delays they've put in our path to equality.

  • 24. Paul in Minneapolis  |  December 8, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    So sad to learn of this. Very sorry for your loss, Derence.

  • 25. rick jacobs  |  December 8, 2011 at 11:54 pm

    How ironic that I learned of this while flying to San Francisco to hear appeals on whether Judge Walker's ruling can be objective because he might or might not ever want to marry. Or that we cannot see the video transcript because, well, because. But Ed is gone. How many more will go before this is all done? I wish Charles Cooper in his righteous indignation about dark days ahead would see the detritus of life he strews. It's enough.

  • 26. S.B.  |  December 9, 2011 at 3:17 am

    So very sad to hear. I don't have a lot of money, but if Mr. Kernek needs any help during this difficult time, I would love to be able to chip in what I can.

  • 27. Retirement Care  |  December 9, 2011 at 4:47 am

    It's really pathetic. I have no words to console Derence. May Ed's soul rest in peace.

  • 28. Prop 8 Trial Tracker &raq&hellip  |  December 9, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    […] you so much for all of your comments and condolences on yesterday’s thread to honor Ed Watson’s […]

  • 29. Mimi  |  December 9, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    Rest in peace, Ed. Derence- In addition to my condolences, I hope that you find peace and solace in knowing that, although you were unfairly denied the right to join Ed in a legal marriage, you are so fortunate to have found the kind of love and intimacy that we all seek, and that those with hateful souls and a bigoted, homophobic, misogynist, and "tradition" centered, rather than love-centered, view of marriage will never know. The love that you and Ed shared will serve as a legacy and an example of the loving relationship that marriage should, and someday will, be based on.

  • 30. Top Three Lessons from th&hellip  |  December 9, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    […] Alzheimer’s disease as a factor that added urgency to their desire for marriage. Sadly, Ed passed away this […]

  • 31. Sylvia  |  December 14, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    Derence- I will always treasure the day Chris and I got to spend with you and Ed at your home. Thank you for allowing us time with you and please know you are in my thoughts. I'm so sorry the trial has moved so slowly and that you weren't able to legally acknowledge the deep love and devotion you had for one another.

  • 32. Retirement Home  |  February 13, 2012 at 5:09 am

    May Ed's soul rest in peace forever. I have just nothing to console Derence, it's extremely sad.

  • 33. Prop 8 Trial Tracker &raq&hellip  |  February 15, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    […] the Prop 8 trial to conclude so they could get married (Ed had Alzheimer’s). Tragically, Ed passed on the eve of yet another hearing in the Prop 8 trial in December […]

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