This is horrible, I'll agree, but wouldn't this situation have been easily averted by simply having a will in place? I understand that for many younger people they might not have one as they don't think they're going to die in an accident anytime soon, but a couple that's been together for 30 years (making them probably over 50) really should have thought of that, I'd think. You don't need legalized gay marriage to write a will giving everything to your partner if you die. I'm not saying gay marriage shouldn't be legal (I believe in equality for all; I also believe in legalized plural marriages between consenting adults), but this doesn't seem to be a very good example to me.
This response always comes out from the more rational people who are hesitant to engage in a legislative solution to equality. Essentially, it boils down to "they have the same legal recourse via different routes, so why change anything".
And yes, upon initial glance same sex couples do seem to have the same rights. But when you dig into the details, you see that things aren't the same at all. Taxes don't work quite right. Insurance and medical rights are different. Extra effort has to be made in order to accomplish things that are automatic to heterosexual couples.
Considering most of those situations tend to come up at traumatic and unexpected points in a person's life, anyone who hasn't been playing the game of "look out for the unexpected edge case" perfectly can be blind sided. It's not equality if different people have different requirements to fulfill in order to have the same rights.
Personally I find it to be similar to telling African Americans in the 50's that they had plenty of equal access to their own special water fountains.