After Dramatic Flight to MD to Get Married, Couple Wins Court Ruling Respecting Their Marriage in OH

7/23/2013

Press Contact:
Nicole Collins Bronzan
Communications Director, Freedom to Marry
nicole@freedomtomarry.org
646-375-2044

A federal judge in Ohio ruled Monday that state officials must respect the marriage of a Cincinnati couple, John Arthur and James Obergefell, who journeyed to Maryland to marry as Arthur nears the end of his battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Ohio has a discriminatory constitutional amendment that excludes same-sex couples from marriage and bars them from attaining any other form of family status. “There is insufficient evidence of a legitimate state interest to justify this singling out of same sex married couples given the severe and irreparable harm it imposes,” Judge Timothy Black wrote in his decision.

The couple’s dramatic journey to Maryland on July 11 required a medical transport plane to carry Arthur in his hospice bed, at a cost of more than $12,000. In a brief, touching ceremony, they were married on the airport tarmac in Baltimore by Arthur’s aunt before returning to Ohio. The video of their ceremony can be found here: http://bcove.me/1y6ht4qb.

Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry, released the following statement:

“With John Arthur on his deathbed, he and his beloved, James Obergefell, literally had to charter a plane and fly to get married elsewhere on American soil because their home state of Ohio cruelly denies them the freedom to marry at home. No couple should be forced to leave home to make legal their love and commitment to each other, and as a federal court this week rightly affirmed, no couple should suffer the indignity of returning home only to be told, ‘Your marriage doesn’t matter here.’ Ohioans like John and James deserve respect for their love, commitment, and lawful marriage, and armed with the Supreme Court’s latest ruling and the power of stories like these that touch hearts and change minds, Freedom to Marry is committed to ending marriage discrimination in every state and winning marriage nationwide. Every day of denial is a day of massive unfairness and cruel hardship, and we know that Ohio – and America – can and must do better.”

Earlier this month, Freedom to Marry released “Roadmap to Victory – Finishing the Job,” mapping out the national plan for winning marriage nationwide in years, not decades. The plan follows the Freedom to Marry winning strategy that has led to the current progress and momentum, and calls for setting the stage for a successful return to the Supreme Court with a critical mass of states and public support. Through the Win More States Fund, which launched last year to raise, channel, and invest resources into key battleground states, Freedom to Marry has invested nearly $6 million directly into states to date, invested more than $1 million into priority states this calendar year alone, and seeks to raise and invest at least an additional $2 million this year – with the full campaign expected to cost over $100 million before the Supreme Court brings the country to national resolution.

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Freedom to Marry is the campaign to win marriage nationwide. We are pursuing our Roadmap to Victory by working to win the freedom to marry in more states, grow the national majority for marriage, and end federal marriage discrimination. We partner with individuals and organizations across the country to end the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage and the protections, responsibilities, and commitment that marriage brings.