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‘A perfect day’ – Terminally ill patient marries partner on airport tarmac

Sunday, July 14, 2013

John Arthur is bedridden with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), a progressive neurological disease that robs patients of their ability to walk, talk and eventually breathe.

On June 26, as he watched news that the U.S. Supreme Court had struck down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage that prohibited federal recognition of same-sex marriages, John knew what would be that one “perfect day” before he took his last breath.

From left, Jim Obergefell, Paulette Roberts and John Arthur

On Thursday, John and his partner Jim Obergefell boarded a medical transport plane that could accommodate his stretcher, and with a nurse on board, two pilots trained in emergency medicine, and his aunt, an ordained minister, they made the 70-minute flight from Lunken Airport in Cincinnati to Baltimore-Washington International Airport in Glen Burnie, Md.

And when they landed, in the cramped cabin of the jet, with Jim seated next to John’s stretcher, the couple turned to each other, held hands and exchanged their wedding vows.

When the 7 1/2 minute ceremony was over, they celebrated with Champagne, the pilots climbed back in and prepared to leave.

After 56 minutes on the ground in Maryland — one of 13 states where same-sex marriage is legal — they were headed back to Cincinnati, matching rings on their left hands, finally married after 20 years, six months and 11 days together.

“I’m overjoyed,” John said. “I’m very proud to be an American and be able to openly share my love for the record. I feel like the luckiest guy in the world.”

Watch their story, via the Cincinnati Enquirer:

The couple’s perfect day was made possible by Crossroads Hospice, where John has been a patient since March. Crossroads offers the gift of a perfect day to its patients, a chance for the terminally ill to do something they’ve always dreamed of.

And while they said they always felt like they were married, they knew that Ohio’s ban on same-sex marriage would probably not be lifted in John’s lifetime.

The hospice provided some of there services to make their wedding day happen, like an ambulance ride to the airport, but conventional travel was not an option for John, and cost-prohibitive for the couple and the hospice.

But when Jim asked friends if they had any connections, donations poured in from relatives, friends, former co-workers, even someone in Ireland they’d met on a cruise.

They covered enough of the cost to make the trip possible, and give John and Jim a perfect day.

Read more at the Cincinnati Enquirer:

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54 more reader comments:

  1. Powerful story… Pity not all are granted the right to marry the one they love. Big support.

    Posted on Sunday, July 14, 2013 at 11:10pm
  2. ;´S

    Posted on Sunday, July 14, 2013 at 11:16pm
  3. Beautiful story

    Posted on Sunday, July 14, 2013 at 11:19pm
  4. :) congrats

    Posted on Sunday, July 14, 2013 at 11:20pm
  5. Wonderful story, unfortunate that they had to go to such lengths

    Posted on Sunday, July 14, 2013 at 11:22pm
  6. Beautiful thanks for sharing :)

    Posted on Sunday, July 14, 2013 at 11:37pm
  7. congrats

    Posted on Sunday, July 14, 2013 at 11:47pm
  8. A must read..A real life love story..

    Posted on Sunday, July 14, 2013 at 11:50pm
  9. Congrats!!

    Posted on Sunday, July 14, 2013 at 11:52pm
  10. I am so happy for you two. Congratulations and God Bless you.

    Posted on Sunday, July 14, 2013 at 11:57pm
  11. So beautiful. I´m crying. <3

    Posted on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 12:03am
  12. <3

    Posted on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 12:04am
  13. Tear jerker, for sure. :´)

    Posted on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 12:14am
  14. i wanted to cry this was to touching

    Posted on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 12:15am
  15. wonderful!

    Posted on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 12:24am
  16. so happy for you both

    Posted on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 12:28am
  17. A perfect day. Makes you think.

    Posted on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 12:34am
  18. This video brought a 6´4″, 260 lb man to tears. Tears of joy for sure!!

    Posted on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 12:34am
  19. Beautiful

    Posted on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 1:18am
  20. It´s heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time.

    Posted on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 3:22am
  21. Thankfully the day was possible for them to get married didn´t come too late but how sad that they had to do this far from home.

    Posted on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 4:03am
  22. “If only this had happened one year earlier…”
    Yep. Just cried like a baby.

    Posted on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 6:02am
  23. beautiful !

    Posted on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 2:47pm
  24. Awwww beautiful

    Posted on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 2:49pm
  25. I am so happy for the marriage – I am angered that it took so long.

    Posted on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 2:50pm
  26. el amor el amor <3 Vicente J Arteaga

    Posted on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 2:52pm
  27. God bless. Congrats

    Posted on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 2:54pm
  28. Posted on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 2:57pm
  29. Posted on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 2:57pm
  30. Posted on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 2:57pm
  31. Posted on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 2:57pm
  32. Posted on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 2:57pm
  33. So appalling that this couple had to go through so much for what SHOULD be a civil right.

    Posted on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 2:59pm
  34. NO CLASS William…

    Posted on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 3:01pm
  35. ALS has robbed him of his ability to move, but he still has the ability to LOVE and to SMILE.. and to me, that is awesome..

    Posted on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 3:01pm
  36. So true

    Posted on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 3:03pm
  37. This is so beautiful. Congrats. <3

    Posted on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 3:03pm
  38. That was ten minutes well spent. I bawled like a baby. What a beautiful story. <3

    Posted on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 3:06pm
  39. Brasil contra homofobia também!

    Posted on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 3:23pm
  40. Thank you for sharing this special moments of your lives. Congratulations!

    Posted on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 3:23pm
  41. Having lost one of my best friends to ALS…. This story really hit me in the heart… When you remove the fear and pain from life… your only left with the love.

    Posted on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 3:24pm
  42. What a wonderful Gift!! A Perfect Day!! Congratulations!

    Posted on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 3:27pm
  43. awwww good luck guys :)

    Posted on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 3:44pm
  44. Amazing story, thank you for sharing. Compassion, love, respect — all basic human rights. Now this loving couple has all of them thanks to being able to get married. Peace – Kurt.

    Posted on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 3:51pm
  45. the lengths we have to go to to be married is INSANE. Congrats to these two! How AWESOME they could get it done! <3

    Posted on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 5:14pm
  46. Touched my heart!

    Posted on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 5:41pm
  47. sigh :-) Congrats guys! xoxo

    Posted on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 6:07pm
  48. Good for them! Grandma Kay Jean McDonald

    Posted on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 6:45pm
  49. As tears stream down my cheeks, I relish in their love. Finally, their dream comes true.

    Posted on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 6:56pm
  50. So sweet, congrats to you both. Much love and happiness! <3

    Posted on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 7:18pm
  51. that was so beautiful, I can only hope that some day I will be as lucky as they are to find the one I will spend the rest of my days with.

    Posted on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 7:56pm
  52. Aaaaaaa… true love!!! Amazing story!!!!

    Posted on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 8:48pm
  53. What a beautiful story! Really touched my heart. <3

    Posted on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 9:06pm
  54. Love transcends everything.

    Posted on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 9:28pm