Gay couple wed in Maryland sue Ohio governor for recognition

Terminally ill partner wants marriage reflected on death certificate

  • Jim Obergefell and John Arthur married on a medical jet at BWI on Thursday. Arthur's ALS makes it difficult to travel, but they had to make the trip because Ohio doesn't allow same-sex marriage.
Jim Obergefell and John Arthur married on a medical jet at BWI… (Photo courtesy of Jim Obergefell )
July 22, 2013|By Kevin Rector, The Baltimore Sun

A gay couple from Ohio who were married in a medical jet on a tarmac at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport earlier this month are now suing the governor and other officials of their home state in a bid to have their marriage recognized there.

James Obergefell and John Arthur made the trip to Maryland on July 11 because same-sex marriage is not legal in Ohio. They did so in the special jet because Arthur suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, and can only travel under special medical conditions.

Now, Obergefell and Arthur say in a federal lawsuit filed July 19 that Arthur "is likely to die soon" and they want their marriage to be recognized in Ohio before he does, as other marriages from outside the state are. They say they are being treated unequally under the law, as Arthur's death record will not record his marriage to Obergefell, and are suing Gov. John Kasich, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, and others.

"James and John have been in love for more than twenty years," their lawsuit states. "They very much want the world to officially remember and record their union as a married couple."

The couple says they are "suffering irreparable harm" because of Ohio's current law.

"But this is about more than money or benefits," Obergefell said in an affidavit in the civil rights case. "John will die soon. I love him deeply; more than any other person on earth. I want the world to know that we share the highest commitment two people can make to each other in our society."

In his own affidavit, Arthur shared similar thoughts.

"Only through court action to recognize our marriage in Ohio can James and I receive the dignity that our marriage deserves," he wrote. "Please act soon."

In an interview after their marriage in Maryland, which friends and family helped fund, Obergefell said he was willing and ready to fight in Ohio for equality.

Looks like he meant it.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.