Posts Tagged As: Obergefell v. Hodges

Ohio Couple Challenges State’s Marriage Equality Ban in Federal Court

Jim Burroway

July 22nd, 2013

Last week, John Arthur and Jim Obergefell, partners of 20 years, flew from Cincinnati to Maryland to get married. A trip like that to get married is already complicated enough, but Arthur is in a hospice, suffering from ALS, or Lou Gejrig’s, a neurological disease which, over time, robs patients of their ability to walk, move, talk, and eventually breathe. Aurthur needs around-the-clock care, and a commercial flight was out of the question. After the call went out, friends, family, and total strangers donated aver $12,000 to charter a private plane. They flew to Baltimore, the pilots parked off the runway, and the couple was married on the tarmac. A few minutes later, the couple celebrated with champagne, the pilots climbed back in the cockpit, and the wedding party was back in the sky on the return trip to Ohio.

The Cincinnati Enquirer published a well researched, in-depth story on the couple shortly after they married, illustrating the problems they face in a state which relegates them to legal strangers to each other. Last Friday, Arthur and Obergefell filed suit in Federal Court seeking Ohio’s recognition of their legal marriage. Their attorney, civil rights lawyer Alphonse Gerhardstein, noted some of the absurdities of Ohio’s marriage law:

“(T)he marriages of opposite-sex couples that are legal in other states but would not be allowed in Ohio – e.g., marriages of first cousins or a young partner – are routinely accepted in Ohio if those marriages are legal in the state where they are celebrated,” the suit notes.

The suit seeks a temporary restraining order and injunction, hoping to allow Arthur’s death certificate to reflect that his status at death was “married.” That is more important now, the suit notes, because Arthur is gravely ill.

“It is the final record of a citizen’s life. It must be accurate,” Obergefell said of the death certificate.

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