Jim Obergefell transformed LGBTQ rights for the entire nation, but he’s not done fighting

Jim Obergefell
Jim Obergefell Photo: Campaign website

Jim Obergefell (D) was the lead plaintiff in the U.S. Supreme Court case that helped legalize same-sex marriage nationwide. He has also launched a 2022 campaign to serve in the Ohio House of Representatives.

Jim Obergefell At a Glance

  • Location: Ohio
  • Party Affiliation: Democrat
  • Race/Ethnicity: White
  • Gender Identity: Cisgender man
  • Sexual Orientation: Gay
  • Pronouns: He/His
  • LGBTQ Ally: Yes

Social Media

Facebook: Jim Obergefell For Ohio

Twitter: @JimObergefell

Instagram: @JimObergefell

Website: ObergefellForOhio.com


Jim Obergefell was born in Sandusky, Ohio as the youngest of six kids “in a blue-collar Catholic family,” his campaign website states. His mother was a librarian and his father served in the U.S. Navy during World War II.

Obergefell graduated from Sandusky High School in 1984. He later graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a degree in secondary education and German. After graduating, he worked as a high school German teacher, a trainer for financial customer services, and a real estate agent.

In 2013, his longtime partner John Arthur was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a progressive loss of muscle control that is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. That year, the two men married in Maryland, and Arthur died. Ohio’s same-sex marriage ban prohibited Obergefell from being listed on his Arthur’s death certificate as the deceased man’s surviving spouse.

Obergefell’s lawsuit contesting Ohio’s law eventually made it to the U.S. Supreme Court. The court ruled in June 2015 that the U.S. Constitution requires all states to recognize same-sex couples married in other U.S. states. The ruling effectively legalized marriage equality nationwide.

Obergefell has since worked as an LGBTQ advocate, activist, author, and speaker. He is also the owner of a wine label supporting LGBTQ organizations.

Obergefell’s stance on LGBTQ issues

When asked about why he attended as First Lady Michele Obama’s guest at then-President Barack Obama’s (D) 2019 State of the Union address, Obergefell said, “We the People. This core American belief is why the other marriage-equality plaintiffs and I, and so many others before us, stood up to fight for our rights.”

“I’ve been part of the national civil rights case that made life better for millions of Americans,” Obergefell said. “But I didn’t do that just for my husband and our marriage. I championed the American ideals of equal justice under law, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and we the people. Simply put, I advocate for what’s right and just.”

Same-sex marriage

When U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in June 2022 that the court should consider overturning Obergefell v. Hodges, the aforementioned case that legalized marriage equality, Obergefell wrote, “The millions of loving couples who have the right to marriage equality to form their own families do not need Clarence Thomas imposing his individual twisted morality upon them.”

“I’m just concerned that hundreds of 1000s of marriages across this nation are at risk and the ability of people across this nation to marry the person they love is at risk,” Obergefell said, promising to continue his work as a same-sex marriage advocate.

Trans children in sports

When Ohio state House Rep. Jean Schmidt (R) introduced a bill that would bar transgender students from participating on women’s teams in high school and college, Obergefell expressed disapproval, stating, “They certainly shouldn’t be attacking that one trans girl athlete who simply wants to play sports with her friends.”

Transgender access to public bathrooms

Obergefell has issued numerous tweets in favor of policies that allow trans people to use bathrooms matching their gender identity.

“I don’t want a community that shuns our transgender brothers and sisters,” he wrote in one tweet.

“We all have a role to play in making life better for our transgender brothers and sisters,” he added.

Don’t say gay/LGBTQ discussion in schools

Obergefell has openly opposed legislation that seeks to ban LGBTQ discussion from school classrooms.

“[Anti-LGBTQ legislators] are saying, ‘Sorry teachers, you can’t teach our nation’s history. You can’t acknowledge the existence of – the reality of – the queer communuty,’” Obergefell told City Beat. “That’s harmful, it’s hateful, and when we’re messing with education in that way, it’s not preparing our kids to be successful in a diverse, complicated world.”

His campaign website also states his wish to fight efforts to ban books in schools and public libraries. Most contemporary library book bans have targeted LGBTQ content.

Discrimination protections

“We should all be able to participate fully in society and the economy, living in strong communities with great public schools, access to quality healthcare, and with well-paying jobs that allow us to stay in the community we love, with the family we care about,” Obergefell said in a statement.

His campaign website says he wants to ensure that all Ohioans are protected under Ohio law from discrimination in all facets of life regardless of their gender, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, immigration status, or marital status.

Same-sex couples’ right to adopt

Obergefell has acknowledged that his landmark Supreme Court case has aided the right of same-sex couples to legally adopt children. He has repeatedly said that same-sex and LGBTQ couples should be afforded the same legal rights as different-sex couples.

Obergefell’s Career

  • High school German teacher
  • Trainer for financial customer service
  • Real estate agent
  • Supreme Court plaintiff
  • LGBTQ advocate, activist, and author

In conclusion

Jim Obergefell is a gay man whose activism has helped legalize same-sex marriage nationwide, furthering LGBTQ rights across the nation in the process.

Stay informed about his career by subscribing to the LGBTQ Nation newsletter.

Related articles

Jim Obergefell doesn’t believe Trump when he says gay marriage law is ‘settled’

Jim Obergefell won marriage equality for all Americans. Now he’s running for office.

LGBTQ icon Jim Obergefell wins Ohio primary

Jim Obergefell slams Supreme Court’s threat to overturn same-sex marriage rights after Roe

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