Friday will mark five years since the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Obergefell v. Hodges decision, in favor of nationwide marriage equality. And lead plaintiff Jim Obergefell says he’s still grieving the loss of his late husband, John Arthur, whose death was an impetus for the case.
The Cincinnati Enquirer reports: The fanfare after that historic decision – the one bearing Obergefell’s name – lingered far longer than he could have expected. But eventually, things slowed down and life began to feel normal. Which meant Obergefell could finally grieve. “When I found myself not rushing here, there, and everywhere, the grief started to hit, and the loss started to hit,” Obergefell said this week. “I thought I’d worked through a lot of it but when you don’t have those other things to keep you busy, you realize you’re still grieving.” … In July 2013, Obergefell married his longtime partner in love, John Arthur, who was gravely ill with Lou Gehrig’s disease. Because Ohio at the time didn’t allow same-sex unions, the couple flew to Maryland to exchange vows. Arthur died of the disease three months later, and Obergefell sued to be listed on the death certificate as Arthur’s husband. The whirlwind of that suit meant Obergefell was never alone with his thoughts. But as the focus has shifted to other minority groups, he’s had time to learn that, contrary to the self-help books, grief does not come in clean stages. “That implies it’s the same for every person, and it isn’t,” he said. “I’m still grieving, I’m still processing.”
More on Friday’s anniversary from USA Today: Today, the constitutional right announced by five justices on June 26, 2015, has become old hat. More than 500,000 same-sex couples in the United States are married, including some 300,000 who have wed since the 2015 ruling. … The ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges ended a legal battle that had brewed in the states for 45 years, from Minnesota in the 1970s to Hawaii in the 1990s and New England after the turn of the century. The penultimate turning point came in 2013, when the court forced the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages and allowed them to resume in California. Jim Obergefell was determined not to miss out when the justices announced their 2015 decision. The lead plaintiff, whose marriage to longtime partner John Arthur was not recognized by their home state of Ohio before Arthur died of ALS, was in line early for the court’s last four decision days in order to guarantee himself a seat. “I still remember the complete and utter sense of celebration and joy on the plaza outside the courthouse,” he says now. “The air was electric.”