Marriage Icon Jim Obergefell 'Devastated' by Kennedy Retirement

Jim Obergefell

Jim Obergefell, the named plaintiff in the case in which the Supreme Court ruled for nationwide marriage equality, says he’s “devastated” at the retirement of Anthony Kennedy, the court’s swing justice and author of that ruling.

“I don’t think devastated is too strong a word to describe how I feel,” Obergefell told Erica Hill on CNN’s New Day this morning. He’s also worried about the future of LGBT rights, as any justice appointed by Donald Trump is likely to move the court in a more conservative direction.

Trump has said the 2015 marriage equality ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges is “settled” law, but Obergefell doesn’t trust the word of the president, who has also said he supports “traditional marriage.”

"He says one thing, one day, and says the exact opposite the next day. … I have to believe that there are people behind him pushing him that will force this issue and bring this back up for a vote or for a hearing, and that really concerns me," Obergefell told Hill.

But in order to overturn the Obergefell ruling, another case would have to make its way through lower courts and come before the Supreme Court, a process that would probably take years. Still, supporters of LGBT rights, abortion rights, and civil liberties in general are concerned about the pending change in Supreme Court justices.

Obergefell also spoke highly of Kennedy, whose retirement takes effect July 31. "As a gay man, I respected Justice Kennedy, because he seemed to interpret the law with compassion," Obergefell said. "It wasn't just about the black and white letter of the law. He thought about things like dignity, respect, and compassion."

"And I'm worried that layer, that that important layer of compassion, will now be missing in that court," he added.

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