The fascinating and very moving story of the lovers, lawyers, judges and activists behind the groundbreaking Supreme Court case that led to one of the most important, national civil rights victories in decades—the legalization of same-sex marriage.
In June 2015, the Supreme Court made same-sex marriage the law in all fifty states in a decision as groundbreaking as Roe v Wade and Brown v Board of Education. Through insider accounts and access to key players, this definitive account reveals the dramatic and previously unreported events behind Obergefell v Hodges and the lives at its center. This is a story of law and love—and a promise made to a dying man who wanted to know how he would be remembered.
Twenty years ago, Jim Obergefell and John Arthur fell in love in Cincinnati, Ohio, a place where gays were routinely picked up by police and fired from their jobs. In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government had to provide married gay couples all the benefits offered to straight couples. Jim and John—who was dying from ALS—flew to Maryland, where same-sex marriage was legal. But back home, Ohio refused to recognize their union, or even list Jim’s name on John’s death certificate. Then they met Al Gerhardstein, a courageous attorney who had spent nearly three decades advocating for civil rights and who now saw an opening for the cause that few others had before him.
This forceful and deeply affecting narrative—Part Erin Brockovich, part Milk, part Still Alice—chronicles how this grieving man and his lawyer, against overwhelming odds, introduced the most important gay rights case in U.S. history. It is an urgent and unforgettable account that will inspire readers for many years to come.
Debbie Cenziper is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter and nonfiction author who writes for The Washington Post. She is also the Director of Investigative Reporting at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Over 20 years, Debbie's stories have sent people to prison, changed laws, prompted FBI and Congressional investigations and produced more funding for affordable housing, mental health care and public schools. She has won dozens of awards in American print journalism, including the Robert F. Kennedy Award, given by Ethel Kennedy and the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights, the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting from Harvard University, and the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for local reporting. She is the author of two nonfiction books, "Love Wins: The Lovers and Lawyers Who Fought the Landmark Case for Marriage Equality," (William Morrow, 2016) and "Citizen 865: The Hunt for Hitler's Hidden Soldiers in America," (Hachette, 2019). Debbie graduated from the University of Florida and lives with her family near Washington, D.C. See also www.debbiecenziper.com.
Jim Obergefell is an LGBTQ+ and civil rights activist, public speaker, and board member of several non-profit organizations, including Board of Advisors of Mattachine Society of Washington, DC and the National Advisory Council of the GLBT Historical Society. . Jim co-founded Equality Vines, the world’s first cause-based wine label, to support organizations fighting for equal rights.