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Randell Lewis-Kendell

Randy was 51 when he lost the love of his life, his husband Rob, after his long fight with colon cancer. When Rob died in 2007, he and Randy had been together for 30 years. Randy had spent more of his life with Rob than without him. Rob’s grandchildren consider Randy their Grandpa.

Randy and Rob married in their hometown of Harwich Port on Cape Cod in 2004, after they had been together for 27 years. Their pickup truck broke down the morning they planned to apply for their marriage license at their town hall, so they walked the five miles to the town center to keep their appointment. Later, neighbors said they would have been happy to drive them—Randy and Rob had been so excited that morning they hadn’t even thought to ask.

They were best friends, and Randy says that’s what got them through the hard times—being downsized from jobs, opening a store together and weathering the slow winters at their gift shop in Harwich Port. That bond is also what guided them through Rob’s five-year battle with colon cancer.

The night before Rob died in 2007, he and Randy stayed up all night talking—about their life together, how much they loved each other, and what Rob wanted for Randy in the future.

“He never wanted to hold me back at anything. He wanted me to be happy and secure, even if it was a future without him,” says Randy. “We didn’t know then that the federal government would do so much harm that it would deny me the security that it gives to other married couples.”

Since Rob’s death, Randy has struggled to pay bills at home and at the gift shop. The difficult economy and reduced tourism have cut into sales at the store. The federal government adds to his worries by refusing to treat Randy as a spouse—even for the small but critical death benefit that would have helped him pay for Rob’s funeral expenses. And when Randy turns 60, the government will also deny him the survivor benefit other spouses receive.

“Rob and I paid into the system like everyone else,” says Randy. “But I’ll lose thousands of dollars every year—money that could make the difference in keeping our home and business.”

Read a profile of Randell Lewis-Kendell in The Cape Cod Times