LGBTQ+ community fears what could come after overturning of Roe v. Wade

Jim Obergefell
Posted at 2:46 PM, Jun 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-24 19:39:28-04

As the Supreme Court of the United States overturns Roe v. Wade and many are asking the question of why, the LGBTQ+ community is wondering if they're next.

They fear that now if the Supreme Court can rewrite history with abortion, then gay marriage could be one of several other cases they could revisit.

“We just figured we are never going to get this opportunity. We will never be able to marry and have it mean anything legal,” explained Jim Obergefell.

ABC Action News spoke exclusively to Obergefell, the Ohio man whose historic case went to the Supreme Court and legalized gay marriage across the country seven years ago. Obergefell’s road to becoming what he calls an “accidental activist” started when he met the love of his life, John Arthur.

“John and I joke that for us it wasn't love at first sight. It was love at third sight,” said Obergefell. “He was just witty, charming, generous and a whole lot of fun to be around.”

Obergefell said John changed his view on the world and on life. Then came that fateful day that would change Obergefell’s life and chart his path all the way to the Supreme Court.

“It was early in 2012 I noticed that when John was walking around our condo it sounded different. It sounded almost like his foot was slapping the floor harder. One foot was slapping the floor harder than the other,” explained Obergefell.

The two men soon found out John had ALS and his days were numbered.

With his health deteriorating in 2013 the two men hopped on a medical charter from Ohio to Maryland, where same-sex marriage was legal. Since John was bedridden they were married inside the plane on a tarmac, only to turn around and head back to Ohio where the state’s Defense of Marriage Act did not recognize their love. Then, a lawyer broke some more bad news.

“When he dies his last official record as a person, his last record as a citizen of Ohio and the United States will be wrong because Ohio will say he is unmarried and Jim this field here for surviving spouse, your name won't be there,” explained Obergefell.

Obergefell and Arthur then sued the State of Ohio to have their marriage recognized. They won, but the state appealed so Obergefell took his case to the Supreme Court. Victory in Obergefell v. Hodges rang out like a celebration not seen on the steps of the Supreme Court in years. Unfortunately, John died before the verdict was rendered.

“As I'm crying of course I'm thinking of John. Thinking John, I wish you were here. I wish you could know our marriage could never be erased and then I realized that for the first time in my life as an out, gay man I felt like an equal American,” said Obergefell.

But now that a predominantly conservative High Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, Obergefell and others in the LGBTQ+ community are left to wonder — could their progress be next?

A majority of the justices now contend that the right to end a pregnancy was not found in the text of the Constitution nor our nation's history. With that rationale, Obergefell said every past Supreme Court ruling lacking enough history for a conservative court could be in the crosshairs.

“Those rights that are not specifically written out in the Constitution like the right to privacy, the right to marry that those rights can only be considered rights if they have a long history or tradition in the United States. Well, marriage equality we're coming up on seven years. That is certainly not a long history or tradition. So should we really be interpreting our nation's governing document on an understanding of the world and society from the late 18th century?” said Obergefell.

In his separate opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas even mentioned the need to revisit the decisions that protect same-sex relations and contraception.

RECOMMENDED: Justice Clarence Thomas calls for Supreme Court to reconsider same-sex marriage, contraception decisions

Obergefell will spend this summer campaigning in his district in Ohio. His opponent is a conservative incumbent in a red district that he knows isn't usually on the side of a Democrat. But then again, Obergefell knows a thing or two about defeating giants.