Ohio Marriage Equality Advocate Dies

By Jase Peeples

Originally published on Advocate.com October 22 2013 7:16 PM ET

John Arthur, the marriage equality advocate who made headlines in July after a federal judge ordered Ohio state officials to recognize his marriage, performed in Maryland, to his longtime partner, James Obergefell, died early Tuesday morning, reports the Associated Press.

Arthur and Obergefell had been together for more than 20 years, and on July 11, the Cincinnati couple took a specially equipped medical jet to marry on the tarmac of Baltimore-Washington International Airport. Same-sex marriage is banned in Ohio, and the couple couldn't wait for equality to come to their home state because Arthur suffered from advanced amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a fatal neurological disease.

Once the couple’s nuptials had taken place, they filed suit against Ohio governor John Kasich in his official capacity, also naming Ohio attorney general Mike DeWine and the Cincinnati doctor responsible for approving death certificates as defendants. The couple’s victory in that case will allow them to be buried alongside each other in Arthur's family plot, since Arthur's grandfather legally stipulated that only immediate family and their spouses can be buried in the plot at Spring Grove Cemetery. 

“This is not a complicated case,” wrote U.S. District Magistrate Timothy Black in his decision in July. “…Ohio law has historically and unambiguously provided that the validity of the marriage is determined by whether it complies with the law of the jurisdiction where it was celebrated.”

“Their love is a model for all of us,” attorney Al Gerhardstein told the Associated Press of Arthur and Obergefell’s relationship. “Part of John's legacy will be the difference he has already made in the struggle for marriage equality.”

Funeral arrangements are currently pending.