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In the most recent edition of HRC’s Equality magazine, longtime member Jim Obergefell spoke about his late partner John Arthur, the impact of the United States v. Windsor case, and the decision to fly half way across the country to say, “I do.”

Obergefell is the named plaintiff in Obergefell v. Hodges, the consolidated marriage equality cases set to be heard on April 28 at the U.S. Supreme Court. He joined HRC in the delivery of the historic “People’s Brief” calling for full nationwide marriage equality in February.

In 2013, Obergefell’s partner of 20 years, John, was in hospice care and confined to a hospital bed at home in Cincinnati, Oh. When the Windsor decision came out in June of that year, Obergefell and Arthur made the swift conclusion that they wanted to get married.

“The question was, ‘How do we do it, because Ohio won’t allow us?’” Obergefell said.

Insistent on saying their vows and committing themselves to one another, the couple flew to Baltimore, Md., for a seven-and-a-half minute ceremony on a medical jet, then returned home to Cincinnati.

“We got to say the most incredible thing, ‘I do.’” said Obergefell. “We just wanted to get married and to have the government recognize that.”

As same-sex marriages are not recognized in Ohio, civil rights attorney Al Gerhardstein reached out to Obergefell and Arthur after their story was featured in the Cincinnati Enquirer, and their fight for marriage equality began. Many questioned why the pair would go through such great lengths during Arthur’s last few days of life, but to Oberfegell, the answer was simple.

“’Why not?’ I asked myself. I couldn’t think of a better thing to do than live up to my vow of ‘I do.’”

To learn more about Obergefell and The People’s Brief, check out this quarter’s edition of Equality magazine.

Equality is published quarterly and the print edition is free to all HRC members. The magazine is also available digitally through the free HRC Equality Magazine App for iPad.


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