A gay Ohio couple, recently married in Maryland, have filed a lawsuit against their home state challenging its ban on gay marriage. The couple claims that Ohio’s refusal to legally recognize their marriage is unconstitutional. Al Gerhardstein, the attorney representing the couple, told the press that the couple believes that Ohio’s ban on same-sex marriage is “blatant discrimination” and “a denial of equal protection.”
Jim Obergefell and John Arthur, who is terminally ill with amotryphic lateral sclerosis (also known as ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease), were married last week on the tarmac of Maryland’s Baltimore-Washington International Airport. Donations to the couple from family, friends, and Arthur’s hospice allowed them to take a private medical plane equipped to allow Arthur to travel. The disease, which is a progressive neurological disease that limits patients of the ability to walk, talk, and eventually even breathe, has no known cure. Arthur was diagnosed 26 months ago, and has been on bedrest since March.
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Given the deadly realities of ALS, Gerhardstein has asked the federal court to expedite the case. The couple has stated that they simply want their union to be recognized by the state before it’s too late. In a statement, Obergefell said that he and his husband “want nothing ore than for our marriage to count in the place we call home.” He continued, “When [Arthur] dies, his death certificate should reflect our marriage just like the records of all the other married couples in Ohio.”
Mike Dewine, an Ohio attorney general who is one of the defendants in the case, says that he will stand behind the ban on gay marriage, which was voted into state law by its citizens in 2004. “The voters of Ohio voted on this and they made their decision,” Dewine said. “It’s my obligation to defend that decision until or unless the voters change their mind.”