Cincinnati, Ohio residents John Arthur and James Obergefell have lived together for 20 years. After Arthur was diagnosed with the fatal degenerative disease ALS, Obergefell became concerned about losing his husband.
Yes, "husband" is the right word: The two were married on an airport tarmac in Maryland this year; though their homestate of Ohio still won't recognize same-sex marriage.
Now, in a groundbreaking ruling, U.S. District Magistrate Judge Tim Black has ordered the state to let the couple call themselves married in every sense of the word — even on official documents issued by the state.
The case raises questions many states must ask post-DOMA about boundaries between state and federal laws. Their arguments centered upon concerns about Arthur's death certificate: without an official designation as Arthur’s spouse, Obergefell told the Court, he wouldn't be able to be buried with him, due to stipulations by Arthur's family.
“We’ve been beside each other for 20 years. We deserve to be beside each other in perpetuity,” Obergefell testified Monday.
Judge Black said his ruling only applied to this particular couple, but that hasn't stopped politicos on both sides from going up in arms. The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine (R) has already promised to appeal the decision, launching a battle-of-press-releases with David Pepper, his rival for the post:
“I respectfully call upon Attorney General DeWine to recognize the clear Constitutional wrongs taking place here. Allow this couple to spend their final weeks together in dignity.”