"I can't even say how many times I've had to call 911 when he falls or gets into a position where I can't lift him," Kernek says of his partner.
The two retired to this gay-friendly desert oasis five years ago, after their eclectic college pursuits — horticulture, social work and engineering — took them from the Bay Area to Kansas City, then an Oregon farm that was their home and livelihood for a decade.
They registered as domestic partners when they arrived in California, and after the state legalized same-sex marriage three years ago, they thought they could make the ultimate commitment to each other when the time was right. The passage of Proposition 8 in November 2008 shocked them, as did Watson's diagnosis of Alzheimer's a few months later.
Kernek is more confused than bitter about the legal obstacles preventing them from taking vows before Watson's memory recedes to a point of no return.
"Why is it important to anybody else who you are devoted to?" Kernek asks. "I just don't see how who I love hurts anybody else's marriage."