Ohio Couple Sues for Marriage Recognition

A gay couple who were recently married in Maryland have filed a lawsuit to force Ohio to recognize their legal marriage, before one of the partners succumbs to ALS.

BY Sunnivie Brydum

July 21 2013 3:57 PM ET

A gay couple from Ohio who recently flew to Maryland to marry is preparing to challenge their home state's ban on marriage equality, according to Cincinnati's WXVU. The couple's attorney asked the federal court to expedite the case, since one of the men is terminally ill. 

John Arthur and Jim Obergefell have been together for two decades — and last week, the 47-year-old couple flew to Maryland to marry on the tarmac of Baltimore-Washington International Airport. Through donations from friends, family, and Arthur's hospice, the couple was able to travel on a private medical plane that could accommodate Arthur's gurney and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. ALS, as the disease is commonly known, is a progressive neurological disease that systematically destroys its victims' ability to walk, speak, and eventually, to breathe. Arthur was diagnosed with ALS 26 months ago, and has been bedridden since March, reports the Cincinnati Enquirer

Represented by Al Gerhardsen, the couple filed suit in federal District Court on Friday, reports WXVU. A preliminary hearing is scheduled on Monday at 1:30 p.m. before U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Black. 

"We do hope to build from here, and have this be the first step towards marriage equality in Ohio," said attorney Al Gerhardsen. "But for now, we just want to be sure that when John dies, the death record shows him as married."

The lawsuit formally names state and Cincinnati officials as defendants. One of those defendants, Ohio attorney general Mike Dewine, says he will defend the ban on marriage equality, which was enacted by Ohio voters in 2004. 

"The voters of Ohio voted on this and they made their decision," Dewine told WVXU. "It's my obligation to defend that decision until or unless the voters change their mind."

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