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Dying Man Gets His Wish: To Marry His Partner of 20 Years

Dying Man Gets His Wish: To Marry His Partner of 20 Years

As wishes go, it seems an easy one to make a reality: for a man to marry the person he loves.

For one Ohio same-sex couple, the odds were decidedly not in their favor, which makes their triumph over adversity all the more heartwarming.

John Arthur and Jim Obergefell live in Ohio state, where a 2004 constitutional ban means they cannot lawfully marry. Moreover, John suffers from a debilitating terminal condition called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a condition that has robbed him of muscle control and left him bedridden.

Fortunately for John, he now resides at Crossroads Hospice, a facility that offers palliative care for those with terminal conditions. Not just a regular hospice, however, Crossroads prides itself on offering each of its residents the chance at a perfect day through its Gift of a Day program, wherein hospice staff endeavor to do everything they can to make their residents’ special day the most memorable it can be.

One man asked to ride an Indian motorcycle for his 100th birthday, the facility notes, while another woman took a flight to Florida to stick her feet in the sand one last time.

John, who has been at the facility since March of this year, decided last month that he wanted to marry his partner Jim after the Supreme Court of the United States handed down its decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act’s Section 3 and therein, finally, made it so that same-sex marriages could be granted equal federal recognition in terms of rights and benefits.

A problem remained, however: that of how to obtain a marriage license when John cannot be easily transported. Some states like New York require both partners to be present and so despite its proximity, New York was out of the question.

States like Washington and California — where you’ll remember same-sex marriage is now once again legal despite last ditch efforts to curtail equality — were simply too far away.

However, Maryland, which legalized same-sex marriage in 2012 and allows just one partner to apply for the license, was calculated to be within reach.

After deciding on the venue, then, the next problem the couple and Crossroads staff faced was the cost.

Crossroads Hospice was able to dig deep and cover a great many of the costs, including John’s ride in an ambulance to and from the airport, but they soon realized the journey would require a special medical transport plane wide enough to fit John’s stretcher — that alone carries a $12,700 price tag.

Once again, the generosity of the human animal revealed itself and donations from the couples’ family, friends and even acquaintances through social networks, were soon enough to cover the expense.

Arrangements were made and, last Thursday, the couple were married.

Here is an excerpt from Cincinnati.com’s report on that very special moment:

They touched down in Baltimore at 10:39 a.m. The plane parked off the runway and the pilots stepped outside.

And then, in the cramped cabin of the jet, [Jim] Obergefell seated next to [John] Arthur’s stretcher, the couple turned to each other and held hands.

[...]

Obergefell spoke, choking back tears. They exchanged rings. Roberts pronounced them husband and husband, and Obergefell leaned over to Arthur and kissed him.

“Let us all rejoice,” Roberts said, as she leaned forward to hug them both. “I love you very much.”

“That was beautiful,” Arthur responded, his voice thickened and slowed by his disease. “And thank you for including the word ‘damn.’”

Watch John and Jim’s story unfold below, though be warned that crying may be unavoidable:

You can read more on the background on this story over at Cincinnati.com.

John and Jim’s fight for their marriage illustrates in concrete terms the harms that even post-DOMA Section 3 persist in the United States by virtue of the fact that not every state will recognize or perform same-sex marriages.

Efforts have been touted to launch a repeal of Ohio’s marriage equality ban, though such plans lack the unified support of all LGBT rights groups in the state, some of whom feel that public opinion is not yet strong enough in favor to make the change.

For couples like Jim and John, who may, however, not have the good fortune that our married couple had, such efforts cannot come soon enough.

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Image credit: Enquirer video under fair use.

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70 comments

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5:52PM PDT on Aug 1, 2013

this is awesome!

1:21AM PDT on Jul 29, 2013

Gotsie :)

11:25PM PDT on Jul 23, 2013

Good news

9:48PM PDT on Jul 23, 2013

"Love" is a feature documentary which powerfully addresses the most important civil rights issue of the 21st century: same-sex marriage. In the film, the narration is used to not only assist the flow of factual information but also to offer words of loving wisdom. The narrator begins by reminding us three absolute truths; first, love is the source of all creation. Second, love is the core essence of who we truly are. Third, how love is expressed in our world is through compassion, kindness, acceptance, and a life lived with grace.
http://www.cultureunplugged.com/documentary/watch-online/play/5477/Love

6:48PM PDT on Jul 21, 2013

nice

5:24PM PDT on Jul 21, 2013

"The one sin you can't get forgiveness for?"

As opposed to raping children? Murdering nuns? Holding children in captivity and torturing them for years?

I guess loving someone and wanting to legalize that union really IS unforgivable to narrow-minded, hypocritical Christians?

4:41PM PDT on Jul 21, 2013

Christianity is losing on this love issue. I was unfriended on FB by my Southern
Bible thumping Christians, because I support gay marriage, I was told that is one sin you can't get forgiveness for, and this from a 3 time divorcee, go figure. The institution of straight marriage is a joke, to say the least, I sincerely hope in another 100 years we are able to get past all this idiotic.

1:26PM PDT on Jul 21, 2013

At Last! So truly wonderful and sad to because this tookso very long - Best Wishes!!!!

6:55PM PDT on Jul 20, 2013

This is wonderful! I am sorry though that our society is so bloody repressed that they weren't afforded the opportunity years ago as it should have been. Thanks

12:48PM PDT on Jul 20, 2013

such a touching story..congratulations to you two. I am happy for them, but sad at the same time. Thanks Crossroads for financing this dream for these gentlemen

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