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Marriage Equality

Jim Obergefell: I'm Worried About the Future of Marriage Equality

Jim Obergefell

With a conservative majority on the Supreme Court, all it would take is the right case for marriage equality to be overturned, the historic plaintiff says.

The man who helped bring marriage equality to the nation is worried about its future.

"I definitely am worried, what with the changes in the Supreme Court and with this administration, who has continued to nominate conservative judges across the country ... the federal judiciary has changed dramatically, and all it takes is the right case to get in front of the right judges for that to end up in front of the Supreme Court again," Jim Obergefell told TMZ during a stop at Los Angeles International Airport on Tuesday.

Obergefell was the named plaintiff in Obergefell v. Hodges, the case in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of marriage equality in 2015. Obergefell married John Arthur in Maryland in 2013, when Arthur was terminally ill with ALS. Their home state of Ohio did not recognize their marriage, and Obergefell took the fight for equal marriage rights all the way to the Supreme Court, his case being consolidated with marriage equality cases from Michigan, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

With conservative Brett Kavanaugh having replaced swing justice and marriage equality champion Anthony Kennedy on the high court, it now has a 5-4 conservative majority. If a marriage rights case comes before the court, the only hope is that Chief Justice John Roberts, who voted against marriage equality, will care more about respecting precedent than overturning a ruling he disagreed with, Obergefell told TMZ.

He's not sure what would happen to same-sex marriages around the country if the ruling were overturned, and the possibility is too scary to contemplate, he said. "I'm nervous for the LGBTQ community; I'm nervous for every minority community right now, because we're all targeted," Obergefell said. "We're all under attack by this administration."

While citizens can't influence what Supreme Court justices and other federal judges will do, they can make their opinions known to elected officials, and that's what Obergefell encouraged them to do.

"Right now the best thing we can do is vote in every possible election, whether that's state, local, national, talk to elected officials. ... Vote and be vocal," he said.

Watch the full interview below.

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