John Arthur and Jim Obergefell have been together for two decades, and while they've been married in their own eyes for years, they didn't expect to see legal marriage equality in their lifetimes. The couple lives in Ohio, where there's a constitutional amendment banning marriage equality.
But traveling to a state that embraced marriage equality was difficult for the 47-year-old couple, since Arthur was diagnosed 26 months ago with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, explains the Cincinnati Enquirer. Arthur has been bedridden since March, as the ALS, a progressive neurological disease, systematically destroys his ability to walk, speak, and eventually, to breathe.
But in the wake of the landmark Supreme Court ruling on June 26 striking down a key section of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, the couple began to imagine a future where they were legally wedded spouses. With the help of Arthur's hospice, and friends, family, and former coworkers collected on social networking sites, the couple secured enough money to charter a private medical jet that could accommodate Arthur's stretcher, to fly from Ohio to Baltimore-Washington International Airport.
After the plane landed at BWI and pulled off to a private spot on the tarmac, the pilots stepped off the plane, reports the Enquirer. Arthur's aunt, Paulette Roberts, who had become ordained specifically to marry the couple, issued a heartfelt statement before the men exchanged vows and wedding bands.
“Twenty-six months ago John was diagnosed with ALS,” she continued. “Since then the amazing relationship between John and Jim has become even closer, even more devoted, even more loving – and it was pretty damn great before John became ill.”
The Enquirer has a comprehensive profile on the couple, and also compiled the heartwarming video below documenting the long-awaited moment of legal legitimacy.