CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The man at the center of a legal battle to force the State of Ohio to recognize his out-of-state marriage has died.
John Arthur and his partner James Obergefell, both of Cincinnati, began dating over 20 years ago. Arthur was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease in 2011 and had been under Hospice care.
They were married over the summer in Maryland, a state that recognizes same-sex marriage.
In an attempt to have Arthur's eventual death certificate show his status as married in Ohio and list Obergefell as the surviving spouse, the couple filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court. It would also allow Obergefell to one day be buried in Arthur's family plot. According to the lawsuit, they wanted the court to rule that Ohio's law and constitution violated their rights - including equal protection.
Judge Timothy Black later ruled in favor of the two plaintiffs, granting their motion for a temporary restraining order in effect through 2013. Black wrote they deserved to be treated with respect and that Ohio law historically has recognized out-of-state marriages as valid as long as they were legal where they took place.
The ruling made them the first same-sex couple in the state to have their out-of-state marriage legally recognized in Ohio.
The couple's attorney posted the following on their website:
"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."
Arthur passed away Tuesday morning at his home.