John M. Becker

Ohio Man Who Led Challenge to Marriage Ban Dies

Filed By John M. Becker | October 22, 2013 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: constitutional amendment, gay marriage, Jim Obergefell, John Arthur, lawsuit, marriage amendment, marriage discrimination, marriage equality, Ohio, same-sex marriage

arthur_obergefell_marriage.jpgJohn Arthur, the terminally ill Ohio man at the center of a challenge to that state's marriage discrimination amendment, died this morning at the age of 48.

Arthur and Jim Obergefell made headlines and captured hearts this summer when, through the help of friends, family, and Crossroads Hospice, they traveled to Maryland to legally marry. John suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease, and his dying wish was to be able to marry the man he loved after more than twenty years together. (If you missed John and Jim's heartbreakingly beautiful story or don't remember it, read it here.)

When the couple returned to Ohio, they immediately sued the state in federal court in order to compel it to recognize their valid, legal marriage -- so that John's death certificate would identify him as married, and so he and Jim can be buried next to each other in John's family plot.

U.S. District Judge Timothy Black ruled in John and Jim's favor, granting them a temporary restraining order blocking the state from enforcing its marriage discrimination amendment. Black also ordered that the local registrar not accept any death certificate that doesn't list John as married and Jim as the surviving spouse.

John and Jim's attorney posted the following tribute on their website:

The law firm of Gerhardstein & Branch, LPA extends our sympathy to Jim Obergefell and the entire family of John Arthur. Their love is a model for all of us. Even as John faced his last days he was fighting for the rights of all same-sex couples. Part of John's legacy will be the difference he has already made in the struggle for marriage equality. Thank you John for your courage and love.

Well said. John Arthur is a hero, pure and simple. My condolences to his loving husband and the rest of his family.

Watch the Cincinnati Enquirer's incredibly moving video report about John and Jim after the jump. Warning: have tissues handy. You'll need them.

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