Baltimore City Paper

Video: Man at center of Supreme Court's same-sex marriage ruling says he has Maryland to thank

Credit: YouTube

Jim Obergefell, the Ohio man whose legal fight to have his name as the sole surviving spouse on his husband's death certificate led to today's Supreme Court decision validating same-sex marriage, said he has Maryland to thank.

In a video recorded back in April for advocacy group Equality Maryland, Obergefell, wearing a burgundy shirt with the group's "Mar'r'yland" across the front, recalls how he and his partner of two decades, John Arthur, who suffered from ALS, flew to Baltimore-Washington International in 2013 to have the ceremony performed because they could not get married in their home state and needed to accommodate Arthur's condition.

"When we wed, neither one of us could have predicted that our marriage would one day be at the center of litigation before the highest court in the land," he said. "But it is, because we had Maryland to come to."

Arthur's condition made it impossible to travel on a commercial flight, so the couple's family and friends funded the $13,000 medical plane in order for them to fly to BWI and have the marriage performed in an airport tarmac. Forty-five minutes later, they were back in the air.

"The word 'husband' was suddenly used a lot more in our home," Obergefell says. "We felt better. Different. More complete, even after more than 20 years together.

Three months after the wedding, Arthur died, and Obergefell went to court for the legal recognition he won this morning. In thanking Equality Maryland for its advocacy work, Obergefell said: "You see, equality doesn't just appear, it doesn't just happen. Someone has to fight for it."

Watch the full video below: