Photography by Ryan Pfluger in Washington, D.C., on October 5, 2015.
Before his husband, John Arthur, died from ALS in 2013, Jim Obergefell decided that he would no longer allow himself and Arthur to be treated as second-class citizens, and filed suit against the state of Ohio to demand recognition of their lawful Maryland marriage on Arthur’s impending death certificate. That chain of events led to Obergefell becoming the lead plaintiff in the landmark marriage equality case Obergefell v. Hodges, argued before the Supreme Court earlier this year. “When I look back, I feel humbled that my love for and commitment to my husband have allowed me to experience so many things I never expected,” he says. “I’ve since done things I never dreamed of, but it’s the personal interactions with people across the country that really stand out.” He recalls listening to Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion on June 26 as a bittersweet moment. “I felt a mixture of sadness, relief, and joy. I missed my husband, John, more in that moment than I had in quite some time. As in so many other instances since his death, my immediate thought was, I can’t wait to talk about this with John.”