James Obergefell has lived with the love of his life for 20 years before they married two weeks ago.
They also hoped to be buried next to each other, to spend eternity together, but the state of Ohio and his spouse’s relatives won’t let him – because he married another man, John Arthur.
Last week, the two men sued Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and the Cincinnati doctor responsible for approving death certificates. Obergefell and Arthur asked a judge to overturn existing Ohio law – which doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage – to allow Obergefell to be listed as surviving spouse on Arthur’s death certificate and for it to show that Arthur’s marital status at death as married.
The most beautiful wedding you never attended…was not going to be recognized by the state of Ohio. Which meant that John, who is actively dying, was not going to be allowed to be buried next to Jim, his spouse, his partner of 20 years.
“We’ve been beside each other for 20 years. We deserve to be beside each other in perpetuity,” Obergefell testified Monday.
Arthur has ALS, a progressive neurodegenerative disease that has no known cure and is fatal, and is “days maybe weeks if we are lucky” from death, Obergefell testified.
“What he wants is to die knowing that I am legally taken care for and recognized as his spouse,” Obergefell said of Arthur, both 47.
The bad news is, the court’s injunction is limited to this particular case and these two individuals. The good news is, even Cincinnati doesn’t expect that to remain the case:
Aaron Herzig, an attorney for the city, said the city doesn’t oppose the request by Obergefell and Arthur. The city named July 11, the day the two men were married in Maryland, as James Obergefell and John Arthur Day in Cincinnati.