In Memoriam: John Arthur, Ohio man who challenged state marriage ban
October 23, 2013
Yesterday morning, John Arthur, the man from Ohio whose lawsuit with his partner, Jim Obergefell, challenged Ohio laws that restrict the freedom to marry to different-sex couples, passed away in Cincinnati at the age of 48.
John and Jim were the first same-sex couple from Ohio who received respect and recognition for their marriage in Ohio. After 20 years together, the men flew from Ohio to Maryland in July and legally married in a dramatic ceremony on the runway of a Maryland airport. The wedding came as John was nearing his battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease). Before he passed away, he wanted to marry the love of his life - and luckily, he was able to do so in Maryland.
John and Jim's victory in the courts - getting respect and recognition from Ohio for their out-of-state marriage - came under tragic circumstances, when they knew that their time here together would end very shortly. The federal judge in Ohio granted them respect for their marriage largely for the purpose of Jim being able to appear on John's death certificate.
John and Jim should not have had to fly across the country in order to legally marry - and their marriage should have been respected by Ohio under happier circumstances. Every day of denial of the freedom to marry is a day of unfairness and cruel hardship, and Ohioans - and all Americans - deserve respect for their love and commitment.
John and Jim's attorney wished his sympathy to John's loved ones. He wrote:
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.
John's death is a loss to the LGBT community. We wish our deepest condolences to his beloved, Jim, as well as his friends, family members, and everyone who admired his courage and advocacy this year and in years prior.