Stuff in the ‘Obergefell v Hodges’ Category

14 July, 2016


Last year saw a monumental Supreme Court decision: the affirmation of the constitutional right for same-sex couples to marry. It was a long-awaited victory for much of the country, but Jim Obergefell, the named plaintiff in the case Obergefell v. Hodges that prompted the decision, had a particularly personal relationship to it. Fighting for Jim headshotlove and fueled by love, he had become, in his words, an “accidental activist.”

Obergefell came out to his large Catholic family in his mid 20s, and in 1992 began a long-term relationship with John Arthur. After meeting twice at a Cincinnati bar, the two met for a third time at a party thrown by Arthur, where sparks flew. Soon enough they fell deeply in love and forged a quiet, happy life together in Cincinnati. They worked with one another as consultants in IT, followed a shared passion for collecting art, and enjoyed an extensive network of friends and family. Their relationship was never an issue among the people who knew them — but living as an openly gay couple in Cincinnati was at times very difficult. In fact, after an amendment was passed in the city that banned laws protecting the LGBTQ community, Cincinnati was dubbed “The City without Pity”. Ohio’s legislative opposition to gays became especially problematic for the couple in 2013, when Arthur’s illness of ALS worsened and Obergefell proposed marriage.

jim2 Although Ohio did not allow same-sex marriage, Maryland did. So Obergefell raised $14,000 to hire a chartered medical jet to fly them to the Baltimore airport, where the two men were married by Arthur’s aunt on the tarmac. Yet despite this perfectly legal marriage, Ohio was going to refuse to recognize Obergefell as Arthur’s spouse on his death certificate. Unwilling to accept this injustice, the newly married couple decided to sue the state of Ohio, and the case, given its story of love in the face of terminal illness, quickly received national attention. Obergefell was aware that winning his case could help guarantee rights for LGBTQ Ohioans. But he could not have expected that his case would rise as high as the Supreme Court, where it became clear that something greater was at stake. In June 2015, Obergefell won the case with a 5-4 majority — and the rest is literally history.

Now, a year after the Supreme Court decision, Obergefell has teamed up with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Debbie Cenziper to chronicle LOVE WINS: The Lovers and Lawyers who Fought the Landmark Case for Marriage Equality (William Morrow/June 2016), an in-depth look at the case that led to nationwide marriage equality. The book interweaves the stories of Obergefell and his late husband, and the decades-long career of civil rights attorney Al Gerhardstein; readers will get to know not only the facts of the case but also the faces of its advocates. Exactingly recounted, Love Wins is urgent in its subject matter and unforgettable in its emotion.

From the beginning, Obergefell and Cenziper were in agreement that the book should be about more than just one couple and their lawyer. “Throughout the entire process,” Obergefell says, “I knew it was never just about me.” The book introduces other plaintiffs ad some of lawyers in the case as well. It took many people to achieve justice for many people — and now Obergefell’s case has granted marriage equality not only for millions of Americans today but also for generations of Americans to come. “One person, a group of people, can actually do something that impacts the world, that makes our world a better place. I discovered that it really can happen.” Today, even Obergefell’s home city of Cincinnati has changed in its attitude towards LGBTQ issues — Cincinnati has since elected an openly-gay council member and in fact was the second city in the country to ban conversion therapy.

Since the Supreme Court ruling, Obergefell has embraced his newfound role as a civil rights activist. He has worked with organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign and Equality Ohio, and has been honored with awards from organizations such as Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Elders (SAGE). Foreign Policy magazine named him one of its 2015 Global Thinkers.

12 July, 2016

LOVE WINS, Debbie Cenziper & Jim Obergefell

The fascinating and very moving story of the lovers, lawyers, judges and activists behind the LoveWins jacket rev2_FINALgroundbreaking Supreme Court case that led to one of the most important, national civil rights victories in decades—the legalization of same-sex marriage. (William Morrow/HarperCollins, June 2016)

In June 2015, the Supreme Court made same-sex marriage the law in all fifty states in a decision as groundbreaking as Roe v Wade and Brown v Board of Education. Through insider accounts and access to key players, this definitive account reveals the dramatic and previously unreported events behind Obergefell v Hodges and the lives at its center. This is a story of law and love—and a promise made to a dying man who wanted to know how he would be remembered.

Twenty years ago, Jim Obergefell and John Arthur fell in love in Cincinnati, Ohio, a place where gays were routinely picked up by police and fired from their jobs. In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government had to provide married gay couples all the benefits offered to straight couples. Jim and John—who was dying from ALS—flew to Maryland, where same-sex marriage was legal. But back home, Ohio refused to recognize their union, or even list Jim’s name on John’s death certificate. Then they met Al Gerhardstein, a courageous attorney who had spent nearly three decades advocating for civil rights and who now saw an opening for the cause that few others had before him.

This forceful and deeply affecting narrative—Part Erin Brockovich, part Milk, part Still Alice—chronicles how this grieving man and his lawyer, against overwhelming odds, introduced the most important gay rights case in U.S. history. It is an urgent and unforgettable account that will inspire readers for many years to come.

Love Wins is a real winner and expertly crafted. You can tell it’s going to make a great movie.” (Bob Woodward)

“Beautifully told and carefully researched, Love Wins is a deeply moving insider’s account of the ordinary families who took the fight for marriage equality to the Supreme Court and won. . . . Though love may not always win, America really does stand for liberty and justice for all.” (Kathleen Parker, syndicated Washington Post columnist)

“[An] affecting, eloquent account… Uplifting, well-written story of personal courage and political empowerment.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“A tender story, inspiring, and ultimately a huge celebration. . . . You will never forget Jim Obergefell and his lawyer Al Gerhardstein, two men who fought with every ounce of will they could muster. This book will become a classic.” (Erin Brockovich)

“Love Wins is an affecting testament to love and commitment in the face of discrimination. . . . I am recommending Love Wins to everyone I know. Rarely does a book of such uncommon beauty come around, one that digs beneath the headlines to its human heart.” (John Grogan, author of Marley & Me and The Longest Trip Home)

“Told with a novel’s narrative drive…. Taut, tense, and highly readable…. A remarkably rich portrait of America…. An excellent choice for book groups looking for exciting nonfiction.” (Booklist (starred review))

“A fascinating look at the fight for gay marriage.” (Library Journal)

“Th[is] gripping narrative conveys how the fatal illness of one man and the question for justice of another led to the important decision that said the right to marry applies to all Americans.” (Los Angeles Times)

“…A fascinating read…” (Cincinnati Enquirer)

“This gripping portrayal of the pivotal moment in the fight for marriage equality in Ohio includes childhood memories and romance a well as tense moments in court. . . . Readers will feel they’ve been completely guided into seeing the people behind the cases.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Deeply reported, vividly detailed, utterly humane… Grabs the reader and never lets go… Written with a novelist’s attention to scene description and character-revealing action… An exemplary account that anyone, no matter his or her ideological orientation, might read with both pleasure and insight.” (The Charlotte Observer)

“Bring the tissues for this powerful tale of the triumph of marriage equality. . . . A downright joy to read.” (The Washington Post)