There is now a street named for the couple who made marriage equality happen.

Jim Obergefell fought all the way to the Supreme Court to be listed on his husband's death certificate. He won.

Jim Obergefell. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.

Now, thanks to a unanimous city council vote in his hometown, the couple will be listed together, forever, on the street corner where they lived.


On June 21, 2017, Cincinnati renamed the block of Mercer Street "John Arthur and Jim Obergefell Way" two years after Obergefell's successful suit made marriage equality the law of the land.

"I still struggle when people call me a hero, an icon," Obergefell told WLWT5 at the naming ceremony. "I don't feel that way. I just feel like someone who loved my husband and fought for him and fought to live up to my promises."

Obergefell and Arthur were forced to take extraordinary measures to marry in 2013, since Ohio did not recognize same-sex marriage at the time.

The couple chartered a small plane that could accommodate Arthur, who was suffering from ALS, and provide for his medical needs.

The pair exchanged vows on the tarmac in Baltimore before flying home 10 minutes later.

Private planes park at Baltimore's airport. Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images.

By taking his case all the way to the Supreme Court and winning, Obergefell helped transform marriage equality from a cultural lightning rod to a virtual non-issue.

In the year following the ruling, same-sex marriages spiked 33% to include nearly 1 in 10 LGBTQ adults, a total of approximately 1 million couples.

Meanwhile, support for marriage equality has grown steadily after the ruling, following a brief dip. Over 60% of Americans now belief same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, according to a Pew Research report.

Yesterday's high court decisions, however, demonstrate that the fight for full equality continues.

Citing Obergefell, the Court ruled that Arkansas must list same-sex parents on their child's birth certificate, but also announced plans to hear a case involving a Colorado bakery owner who refused to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding on First Amendment grounds.

An anti-gay marriage protestor in front of the Supreme Court in 2015. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.

A ruling for the plaintiff could open the door for businesses with religious proprietors to discriminate against LGBTQ customers.

Meanwhile, anti-trans "bathroom bills" continue to make their way through legislatures in 16 states. Efforts to repeal North Carolina's HB2 led to a "compromise" bill which limits local efforts to pass trans-inclusive policies.

For Obergefell, the most rewarding aspect of his visibility is hearing how his struggle to acknowledge John has inspired others.

"The best thing possible is when people recognize me and stop me to tell me a story. To thank me. To hug me." he told WLWT5.

To those whose lives were touched by the Supreme Court ruling, a small city corner must seem a well-deserved honor for a man and the husband he fought to recognize. Meanwhile, the struggle he helped lead goes on.

Here's to many more streets named for many more heroes and icons in the future.

Obergefell marches in San Francisco's Pride Parade in 2015. Photo by Max Whittaker/Getty Images.

More
terimakasih0/Pixabay

When Iowa Valley Junior-Senior High School principal Janet Behrens observed her students in the cafeteria, she was dismayed to see that they spent more time looking down at their phones than they did looking at and interacting with each other. So last year, she implemented a new policy that's having a big impact.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

RELATED: This fascinating comic explains why we shouldn't use some Native American designs.

Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

popular
The Guardian / YouTube

Earlier this month, a beluga whale caught the world's attention by playing fetch with a rugby ball thrown by South African researchers off the waters of Norway.

The adorable video has been watched over 20 million times, promoting people across the globe to wonder how the whale became so comfortable around humans.

It's believed that the whale, known as Hvaldimir, was at some point, trained by the Russian military and was either released or escaped.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Facebook / Maverick Austin

Your first period is always a weird one. You know it's going to happen eventually, but you're not always expecting it. One day, everything is normal, then BAM. Puberty hits you in a way you can't ignore.

One dad is getting attention for the incredibly supportive way he handled his daughter's first period. "So today I got 'The Call,'" Maverick Austin started out a Facebook post that has now gone viral.

The only thing is, Austin didn't know he got "the call." His 13-year-old thought she pooped her pants. At that age, your body makes no sense whatsoever. It's a miracle every time you even think you know what's going on.

Keep Reading Show less
popular