Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2018-08-15
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



Obergefell recalls marriage-equality fight
by Gretchen Rachel Hammond

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

The Plaza Ballroom of downtown Chicago's Hyatt Regency Hotel was the setting for LGBTQ equality advocate Jim Obergefell to engage in an equally intimate Oct. 11 conversation with Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) Field Director Lynne Bowman, diversity consultant Eric Lueshen and a sold-out audience before signing copies of Love Wins: The Lovers and Lawyers Who Fought the Landmark Case for Marriage Equality—the 2016 book he co-authored with Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Debbie Cenziper.

The event was part of A Hyatt World, with backing from the organization's LGBTQ employee resource group ( ERG ).

Hyatt partnered with the HRC on the occasion of National Coming Out Day to celebrate the lives and indelible contributions to marriage equality in the United States made by Obergefell and his late husband John Arthur leading up to the historic June 2016, 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ( USSC ) decision in the Obergefell v. Hodges case.

Obergefell recalled quite opposing coming out experiences for himself and Arthur—a man he knew by the third date as "The person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with."

"I was really lucky," Obergefell said. "My dad and the rest of my family were great about it. From the moment he was born, [John's] dad was disappointed in him. His most supportive relationship was with his Aunt Paulette. He credited her with saving his life and helping him not commit suicide. She was a fantastic person who married us."

The couple lived openly in Cincinnati, Ohio, despite the political and social antagonism which surrounded them.

"We never experienced overt discrimination," Obergefell said. "John had this amazing power to connect with people. He really made people feel like they mattered, were valued and worthwhile. He was incredibly witty and he always looked at life as 'the glass is half full.' He helped me become a better person."

It was an attitude that Arthur maintained even on the summer 2011 day that he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis ( ALS ).

"He wasn't angry. He wasn't bitter," Obergefell recalled. "He cried and broke down because he was worried about me."

The neurological disease moved with characteristic, lethal swiftness.

"By March of 2013, he was bedridden," Obergefell said. "I was his full time caregiver doing everything for him—feeding, washing and caring for him in every possible way."

When, on June 26, 2013, the USSC ruled in United States v. Windsor that the Defense of Marriage Act ( DOMA ) was unconstitutional, Obergefell leaned over his husband, kissed him and said, "Let's get married. The reason I did that was spontaneous but it was our first ever opportunity to actually have our government say that we exist and we mattered. That was all we ever wanted."

Helped by family and friends, the couple traveled by a chartered medical jet to be married by Aunt Paulette on the airport tarmac in Baltimore, Maryland.

It was friends who put them in touch with celebrated Ohio civil-rights lawyer Alphonse Gerhardstein.

"Five days after we got married, Al came to our home and he pulled out a death certificate," Obergefell said. "We knew that Ohio wouldn't recognize our marriage but that was an abstract concept. Suddenly here was something real; a painful, hurtful, hateful result of that amendment. It broke our hearts but it really made us mad."

They filed the following Monday.

In October 2013, Arthur died.

After what Obergefell called "a pretty offensive decision" in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, Gerhardstein, the American Civil Liberties Union ( ACLU ) of Ohio and Lambda Legal filed joint lawsuits in the USSC.

Obergefell recalled oral arguments in April 2015 and, in particular, one raised that same sex marriage should be decided through a "democratic process."

"I didn't sit with the other plaintiffs, I stood in line for a seat in the public [area]," he added. "Even from our very first hearing in federal court, when the 'democratic process' argument came up, I just remember Al saying, 'The shortest way to abridge the rights of a minority is to allow the majority to vote on it.' Our story resonated with people because everyone loves someone and everyone loses someone they love. It was a real story about the harm these laws did."

Obergefell remembered that on June 26, 2015, "The atmosphere was different. Every day, tickets [to the viewing area] were handed out that were orange. That morning, they were lavender. It was hard not to take that as a good sign."

Bowman noted the "[more than] 200 anti-LGBT bills" introduced "In 34 states across the country" that followed the USSC decision in Obergefell v. Hodges.

"After marriage equality, I remember multiple conversations between people who said 'you won marriage equality so the gay rights movement is done right?'" Obergefell said. "I realized how much we have to tell stories and how much we have to educate people. A year-and-half ago, if I had a transgender friend, I didn't know it. I now have a lot of transgender friends. We need allies but we also have to be allies within our own community."

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

WORLD Report on LGBTQ groups, Costa Rica marriage, Kenyan HIV lab 2018-08-14 - A report has found that nearly half of the world's countries do not allow LGBTQ groups to organize without threat of arrest or ...

Gay News

Cuba set to approve same-sex marriage 2018-08-08 - Cuba looks to become the latest country in Latin America to approve same-sex marriage, after the National Assembly, on Aug. 5, unanimously approved ...

Gay News

Julie Goodridge talks investing, historic marriage-equality case 2018-08-08 - Throughout most of her working life, Julie Goodridge has been interested in socially responsible investing ( SRI ). That, and her desire to ...

Gay News

THEATER FEATURE 'Pillowtalk' a love story for post-marriage equality world 2018-08-08 - The audience won't hear the Toni Morrison quote that serves as an intro to playwright Kyoung H. Park's Pillowtalk, running Aug. 17-18 at ...

Gay News

Survey says Americans Divided on Service Refusals for Same-Sex Weddings 2018-08-02 - WASHINGTON ( August 2, 2018 ) — In the wake of the recent Masterpiece Cakeshop ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, a new ...

Gay News

Recent act aims to protect all parties in family law 2018-07-04 - With the first wave of same-sex couples seeking to divorce comes a new Illinois law, the Illinois Collaborative Process Act, effective Jan. 1, ...

Gay News

South Bend, Ind., mayor marries 2018-06-18 - After their wedding Saturday, June 16, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg ( left ) and Chasten Glezman took a detour from St. James ...

Gay News

Bermuda court rejects gay-marriage ban 2018-06-06 - The Bermuda Supreme Court, on June 6, ruled that a statute rescinding marriage rights to same-sex couples was unconstitutional, according to a Daily ...

Gay News

Threats to marriage equality threaten security of children 2018-06-04 - ( Boulder, CO, June 4, 2018 )—As the three-year anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court marriage decision in Obergefell v. Hodges nears, two ...

Gay News

MOMBIAN Of marriage and parenting 2018-05-09 - My spouse, Helen, and I recently celebrated our 25th anniversary ( though our time as legal spouses is obviously shorter ). Reaching a ...


Copyright © 2018 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.