BY BTL STAFF
NEW YORK – Jim Obergefell, plaintiff in the U.S. Supreme Court case that established nationwide marriage equality, authored an open letter Sept. 30 to Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis. Davis has infamously refused to issue marriage licenses to all eligible couples, citing religious objections to same-sex couples.
In the letter, Obergefell recalls that his late husband’s dying wish was to have their marriage legally recognized by their home state of Ohio.
“You’re imposing the same indignities on couples in Rowan County that John and I endured when Ohio would not legally recognize us as a married couple,” he writes. “Thankfully, the law is now changed so that nobody should ever have to suffer the indignities that John and I have endured. No one is above the law, Kim, not even you.”
Obergefell and John Arthur had lived in a long and committed relationship for 22 years. In spite of John’s 2011 diagnosis with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the couple – newly eligible to marry after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in United States v. Windsor – traveled from their native Ohio to Maryland to legally wed. But when they returned to Ohio to live out John’s last days as a married couple, their home state refused to recognize them as married for any purpose, including refusing to acknowledge Obergefell as a surviving spouse on Arthur’s death certificate. The U.S. Supreme Court’s watershed decision in Obergefell v. Hodges this past June struck down all discriminatory state marriage bans as unconstitutional.
“I authored this letter to send the message loud and clear that love transcends all else,” Obergell writes. “It’s not Ms. Davis’ job to judge whose love is worthy of recognition. Her job is to simply uphold the law. Equality and justice denied anywhere means equality and justice denied everywhere.”