It was on June 26, 2015, that the U.S. Supreme Court made a landmark decision on marriage equality when they ruled that the Constitution guaranteed a right to same-sex marriage in all 50 states. The civil rights case titled, “Obergefell v. Hodges,” centered around two individuals within our ALS community.
John Arthur was diagnosed with ALS in 2011. In 2013, John and his partner of more than two decades, Jim Obergefell, decided they wanted to get married. John was in the final stages of ALS and the state of Ohio didn’t allow same-sex marriage. The couple raised $13,000 for a medically-equipped plane to fly them to Maryland, where they exchanged vows on the tarmac. You can see highlights of their heartfelt ceremony here.
The couple sued the city of Cincinnati and the state of Ohio for spousal rights, which included for John to be listed as “Married” on his death certificate, with Jim as “Surviving Spouse”, and for both to be buried next to each other in a cemetery that only allows descendants and spouses. Just three months and 11 days after they were wed, John died of ALS at age 48.
The city of Cincinnati agreed with no argument, but the state of Ohio fought the court’s ruling and won. Jim then appealed to the Supreme Court, who chose to consolidate his with three other cases that were challenging state same-sex marriage laws, and agreed to review the issue.
Please watch this 2015 video, courtesy of the New York Times, and be inspired by their remarkable love story and learn more about how one family facing ALS helped fuel this historic human rights victory.
Our deepest gratitude to Cincinnati Enquirer and The New York Times for their incredible reporting.