The terminally ill Ohio man whose heartrending marriage to his partner has led to a major challenge to Ohio’s ban on marriage equality has died. John Arthur, 48, had been diagnosed with ALS in 2011, and his dying wish was to marry his partner of 21 years, Jim Obergefell. His wish came true in July when a medical plane touched down on a runway in Maryland, where the couple were legally married.
Arthur and Obergefell then sought to have their marriage recognized in Ohio. Federal Judge Tim Black sided with the couple, ordering that Obergefell be listed as the survivor on Arthur’s death certificate. “Without a temporary restraining order, the official record of Mr. Arthur’s death, and the last official document recording his existence on earth, will incorrectly classify him as unmarried, despite his legal marriage to Mr. Obergefell,” Black wrote.
The implications of the case are far broader. What’s at stake is the need for Ohio to recognize legal marriages performed elsewhere and the state’s ban on marriage equality. That’s quite the legacy for Arthur to leave behind.