Obergefell's full statement on Supreme Court case

Published: Jun. 26, 2015 at 7:09 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 26, 2015 at 7:32 PM EDT
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Today's landmark Supreme Court decision that made gay marriage legal in all 50 states began right here in the Tri-State.

Jim Obergefell, a 48-year-old real estate agent from Cincinnati, filed a restraining order in federal court asking that his name be placed as a surviving spouse on his husband's death certificate. The case made it all the way to the Supreme Court.

Obergefell married John Arthur, his partner of two decades, after Arthur was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Under hospice care, travel was nearly impossible for Arthur and loved ones raised more than $13,000 to charter a medical flight to Baltimore where the couple could legally be married.

The plane landed for only a few minutes long enough to exchange vows and then headed back to Cincinnati.

"We simply wanted to marry. To make the commitment public and legal," Obergefell said.

Obergefell made the following statement after the Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling came down:

"My name is Jim Obergefell and I'm from Cincinnati, Ohio. I've lived in Ohio for most of my life.

My late husband John and I were together for almost 21 years before he passed away as a result of the complications of ALS. I'm here today in front of our nation's highest court because my home state fought the recognition of my marriage to John. And when the man I loved and cared for passed away from one of the cruelest diseases known to humanity, the state of Ohio, the state in which I've lived, worked and paid taxes for most of my life, continued to fight my right to list my name on John's death certificate. No American should have to suffer that indignity.

That's why John and I and the 30 plaintiffs who are part of this lawsuit decided to fight. I know in my heart that John is with me today. That man cared for and loved me for 21 years through thick and thin. Today's ruling from the Supreme Court affirms what millions across this country already know to be true in our hearts. Our love is equal. That the four words etched onto the front of the Supreme Court.... equal justice under law apply to us, too.

All Americans deserve equal dignity, respect and treatment when it comes to the recognition of our relationships and families. Now at long last Ohio will recognize our marriage and, most important, marriage equality will come to every state across our country.

It's my hope that the term "gay marriage" will soon be a thing of the past. That from this day forward, it will simply be marriage. And our nation will be better off because of it. I also hope that this decision has a profound effect in reducing the stigma, the hurt, the alienation and discrimination that lgbt people all too often feel when we live our lives openly and authentically.

At the same time, while we will celebrate today's victory, my heart is also in Charleston. These past few weeks and months have been an important reminder that discrimination in many forms is alive and well in America. It reminds us of the deeply unfortunate reality that progress for some is not progress for all. And that there can be equally significant steps backward as there are forward.

If we're truly dedicated to our democracy and the values that we as a nation cherish, we must be equally committed to ensuring that all citizens are treated equally, that all Americans deserve justice. That's when we're all united.

I want to thank my legal team and especially Al Gerhardstein who stood by me every day, thank you to all the litigators, plaintiffs and organizations who fought for equality. Today's victory, our shared victory was only possible because of each and every one of you. I'd like to give a special thank you to Mary Bonato and Douglas Hallward-Driemeier who brilliantly argued our case before the court and eloquently affirmed my life and my relationship and millions of others like me across this country.

We owe you all a huge debt of gratitude. But most importantly, I'd like to thank John, for loving me, for making me a better man and for giving me something worth fighting for. I love you. This is for you, John. Thank you."

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