Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Unlikely Friendship Between Obergefell and Hodges

From WOSU Public Media:

The landmark 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision on "Obergefell v. Hodges" legalized same-sex marriage. In the case, Cincinnati real estate broker Jim Obergefell sued the state of Ohio for refusing to recognize his marriage to his husband John Arthur on Arthur’s death certificate after he died from ALS.

On the opposite side was Rick Hodges, who led the Ohio Department of Health and was designated as the defendant in the case. In this conversation for StoryCorps COLUMBUS, Obergefell sat down with Hodges to discuss the case and their resulting friendship.

The court case put Rick Hodges in an awkward position because even though it went against his personal values, he says he took an oath to defend the law.

"And I found it humorous, the the quandary I was in, because I did have an obligation to defend, but I hoped we lost," Hodges said.

Other than his name, Hodges had almost nothing to do with the long court battle.

"You were never in the courtroom," Obergefell said to Hodges. "You weren't even involved, really. You were just the name."

While the case didn't significantly affect the daily life of Hodges, it put Obergefel in the public spotlight after a very personal tragedy, the death of his husband.

Read more here.

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