(WOIO) - An Ohio widower is the named plaintiff in a lawsuit at the center of the gay marriage debate before the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday. He will get to sit inside the hallowed courtroom and hear arguments that could change the fate of same-sex couples nationwide.
"We simply wanted to marry, to make the commitment public and legal," said Jim Obergefell.
The honeymoon phase for John Arthur and Obergefell was short-lived. Arthur, diagnosed with ALS, was under hospice care when they took a plane ride from Cincinnati to Maryland, where the two were legally married on the tarmac. But when Arthur later died, Obergefell realized he couldn't be recognized on his husband's death certificate. So he filed a lawsuit. Their case has been appealed all the way to the highest court in the land.
"I put my trust in the Constitution. It says I deserve the same rights. We all deserve the same rights," said Obergefell.
Consolidated with Obergefell's case are those of several other Ohio couples, who are fighting for birth certificate recognition.
"They'd been married in other states, came back to Ohio and were ready to give birth, but because Ohio does not recognize those marriages, the state was not going to recognize the spouse on the birth certificate. Ohio's cases are special because they deal with birth and death, two really important moments in relationships," said Alana Jochum, with
She says this is an exciting day, one they hope will have wide-reaching effects.
"It literally represents the culmination of decades of work," she said.
"To stand up and say, 'We matter. We count.' It's humbling to know that that could result in marriage equality from coast to coast," said Obergefell.