Marriage equality plaintiff on island to lend support - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Marriage equality plaintiff on island to lend support

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The issue of marriage equality is not unique to Guam cases have been brought before courts throughout the United States, most recently making its way to the US Supreme Court. And here on Guam is the primary plaintiff Jim Obergefell. 

"It's about love," Obergefell stated. "And our case started from a point of love and a point of commitment, and of fighting for each other." He's the primary plaintiff in the marriage equality case before the nation's highest court, Obergefell v. Hodges. Before being thrust into the spotlight, Jim and his husband John lived a quiet happy life in Cincinnati, Ohio. But like many same-sex couples on island, they had to leave their home to wed.

"My husband passed away. It will be two years in October and we were fortunate enough to marry in Maryland, and we decided to file suit against the state of Ohio to have our marriage recognized on John's death certificate," Jim stated.

What began as a very personal issue has become  a battle for equal rights, with Jim explaining, "It's an honor for me to be here and to help fight this battle and stand up with Loretta and Kathleen and fight to be able to marry. And as David said, I will echo his thought: you can't have love without equality. And that's all I am asking for - that is all anyone in this fight for marriage equality is asking for."

Kathleen Aguerro and Loretta Pangelinan were denied the opportunity to apply for a marriage license application at the Department of Public Health. Obergefell says that marriage licenses are issued by state governments, and that represents a civil right. "So while I can understand that some people see marriage as being between a man and a woman, that is from a religious point of view and marriage is not a religious institution. Marriage does not require a religious ceremony - marriage requires a state-issued license."

We are weeks away from the US Supreme Court's decision on whether same-sex couples have the right to marry and whether their out-of-state marriages should be recognized throughout the country. Meanwhile, here on the homefront Aguero and Pangelinan's case is set to be heard on June 5.

Obergefell is on Guam along with David Cruz from the Bravo show Millionaire Matchmaker and James Servino from the Human Rights Campaign. The three will be guest speaking at the University of Guam's Spring 2015 graduation commencement ceremony and will also be speaking at a presidential lecture to be held at 5pm on Friday at UOG.
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