WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) applauded today’s announcement by First Lady Michelle Obama that Jim Obergefell – a Cincinnati resident and the lead plaintiff in the U.S. Supreme Court’s groundbreaking marriage equality decision – will be a guest of honor during this year’s State of the Union address on Tuesday. Obergefell married his husband, John Arthur, in Maryland after a 20-year relationship. Shortly thereafter, Arthur passed away from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Despite their legal marriage, Obergefell had to fight to be listed as the surviving spouse on Arthur’s death certificate because the couple lived in Ohio, a state that did not recognize same sex marriage.
“It’s stories like Jim Obergefell’s that underscore the importance of full civil rights for our LGBT family, friends, and neighbors,” Brown said. “His courageous fight helped make marriage equality the law of the land, and I’m proud the First Lady selected this groundbreaking Ohioan to attend the State of the Union.”
Brown is a long-time supporter of marriage equality. In April, Brown met with Obergefell, and in March, he joined 43 of his Senate colleagues and 167 members of the House of Representatives in filing an amicus brief in the Supreme Court stating that all couples deserve the right to marry no matter the state that they live in. Brown is additionally one of a handful of sitting senators who voted against the controversial Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996 – during his service as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
In July 2015, Brown cosponsored the Equality Act, legislation that would expand federal civil rights laws to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Though the LGBT community has made significant legal advances, many states do not have explicit non-discrimination laws, leaving many in the LGBT community without protection. The Equality Act would prohibit discrimination in public accommodations, education, federal financial assistance, employment, housing, credit, and federal jury service.