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Two years after his husband’s death, Cincinnati man still fighting for right to be married

CINCINNATI, Ohio — The plane was only on the ground a matter of minutes. Just enough time for wedding vows and little else.

Jim Obergefell and John Arthur had wanted to marry for a long time. In 2013, after the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, they decided this was the time to do it — even though Arthur was very, very ill. He had been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in 2011, a fatal neurological disease that paralyzes the body. He was confined to his bed.

The couple could not get married in their home state of Ohio. They could, however, get married in one of the handful of states that did allow same-sex couples to marry. So their wedding took place aboard a small, specially equipped medical plane with two pilots, a nurse, and Arthur’s aunt — she performed the ceremony.

The marriage performed there on the tarmac of Baltimore-Washington International Airport has become iconic within the marriage equality movement and beyond, a testament to a couple’s commitment and to the absurd lengths the law required them to undertake for a simple ceremony.

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