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Jim Obergefell: I'm 'Humbled To Be a Part' of Landmark Same-Sex Marriage Case

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News
Jim Obergefell (second from left) celebrates the outcome of his landmark same-sex marriage case at the Texas Capitol.

The plaintiff at the heart of last week's historic Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage is trekking the country on a multi-state tour that brought him to Austin today. Jim Obergefell is the named plaintiff in Obergefell v. Hodges.

Obergefell had a 21-year relationship with his partner, John Arthur, and the two were married in Maryland in 2013. Just a few weeks after that, Arthur died after a long battle with ALS. Prior to Arthur's death, they tried to ensure Obergefell would be listed as the surviving spouse on his husband's death certificate. 

That eventually led to a lawsuit against the state of Ohio, and — long story short — the case was combined with others and resulted in Friday’s ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states.

"It was incredibly meaningful to me that our marriage could be the thing that brought us to this point …bringing marriage equality to the United States," Obergefell says.

In response to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's declaration that government officials could refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples on religious grounds, Obergefell says Paxton should remember that government officials are obligated to serve the public.

Obergefell says he's "humbled" being a part of this landmark case, and that he pursued the case because of the love he shared with his husband.

After Arthur passed away, Obergefell took his husband's ring, and some of his ashes, to a jeweler friend. The jeweler fused Arthur and Obergefell's wedding rings together, and enclosed a small amount of his ashes inside.

"John’s with me everyday in my thoughts and my heart, and he’s with me physically as well."

KUT's Nathan Bernier spoke with Obergefell today in the rotunda of the Texas Capitol. Listen to the full interview above, and find out how to pronounce Obergefell's name.

Credit Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News
Supporters gathered today at the Texas Capitol to hear Obergefell speak.

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at nbernier@kut.org. Follow him on Twitter @KUTnathan.
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