Chances are, you've been hearing the name Jim Obergefell a lot lately. But, who exactly is this mysterious man who has seemingly just emerged from complete anonymity? Well, there is actually a perfectly good reason for this stranger's sudden rise to fame. As it turns out, Jim Obergefell is the plaintiff in the marriage equality case that lead the Supreme Court to declare same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional. So, yes, he's kind of a big deal.
But, despite the happy ruling in his favor, the reason for Obergefell's fervor and persistence in the fight for marriage equality is a lot more tragic than it would first appear. As the plaintiff told BuzzFeed, he promised his husband, John Arthur, that he'd "see this through till the end" which, unfortunately for Obergefell, means being steadfast in his quest for their marriage to be legally recognized on his late husband's death certificate.
As BuzzFeed exlains, "Obergefell and Arthur — who was suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) when they married — sued the state of Ohio to recognize their marriage on Arthur’s death certificate."
According to ABC News, the reason for suing the state of Ohio, and later petitioning the Supreme Court on the matter, is because in Ohio their marriage was not deemed "valid" due to a 2004 amendment prohibiting the recognition of gay marriages. Even, in spite of the fact that the couple was legally married in Maryland.
But now, the rest is history. If you're still not grasping just how important and essential Obergefell was and is in the now-victorious battle for marriage equality, perhaps this popular excerpt from Justice Kennedy's opinion will drive the point home.
As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment themselves.
So you see, Justice Kennedy reiterates through the plaintiff's story the #loveislove sentiment. In Obergefell's impassioned and unwavering fight to have his marriage to his late husband dignified, he quite literally changed the course of history. All in the name of honoring his vow.
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