Jim Obergefell, the Ohio man who sued
the state to recognize his marriage to his dying husband, said in an
interview this week that he's still grieving the loss.
Five years ago Friday, the Supreme
Court ruled in Obergefell that gay and lesbian couples have a
constitutional right to marry, striking down state laws and
constitutional amendments that defined marriage as a heterosexual
Obergefell and John Arthur, who was
fighting a diagnosis of Lou Gehrig's Disease, married in Maryland
after sharing their lives for more than 20 years. Because the disease
was in its late stages, the couple married on an airport tarmac in
Baltimore. Three months later, Arthur died and Ohio refused to list
Obergefell on his death certificate.
Obergefell's case was consolidated with
six cases from other states that did not recognize same-sex marriage.
Obergefell was the lead plaintiff.
The Supreme Court handed down its
much-anticipated ruling on June 26, 2015, throwing Obergefell into
the spotlight. Eventually, the whirlwind ended.
“When I found myself not rushing
here, there, and everywhere, the grief started to hit, and the loss
started to hit,” Obergefell told the Cincinnati
Enquirer. “I thought I'd worked through a lot of it but
when you don't have those other things to keep you busy, you realize
you're still grieving.”
“I'm still grieving. I'm still
processing,” he said.
The decision to fly to Baltimore to
marry – knowing that Ohio law would not recognize the marriage –
was an act of protest that turned the couple into civil rights
Obergefell said this week that the most
meaningful part of his life is hearing from young people.
“Young people today are willing to
fight on behalf of someone else who's being bullied, being
mistreated. The fact that kids are living in a world where they can
be much more authentic, I find that stunning,” he said.
“I hope this is the beginning of the
end of mistreatment,” he added, referring to recent Black Lives