The lead plaintiff in the landmark 2015 Supreme Court case that legalized same-sex marriage is running for the Ohio state house, and coming to San Francisco for a campaign fundraiser Wednesday night.
Legal types often use just the shorthand word “Obergefell” when referring to the 2015 Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in the U.S. That’s because the landmark case before the court was called Obergefell v. Hodges, an appeal of an Ohio case called Obergefell v. Kasich, brought by lead plaintiff Jim Obergefell, whose marriage to longtime partner John Arthur the state of Ohio refused to recognize. And while this was the culmination of decades of work by activists and there were other plaintiffs involved, Jim Obergefell effectively has the legacy of being the plaintiff who got same-sex marriage enshrined into U.S. law once and for all.
But now Obergefell wants more legacy than that. According to the Bay Area Reporter, Obergefell is running for the Ohio House of Representatives in November to represent his native Sandusky, Ohio area. Moreover, Obergefell will be in town for a San Francisco fundraiser for his congressional campaign Wednesday night.
"I stand for doing something that made the world a better place," Obergefell told the Bay Area Reporter. "People like to support things like that."
It could be a campaign issue that Obergefell is throwing what could be portrayed as lavish fundraisers, some 2,500 miles away from Ohio in San Francisco, and in Nancy Pelosi’s district at that. Obergefell notes that his opponent, Republican incumbent D. J. Swearingen, is also taking out-of-state money. (Obergefell is also the co-founder of a Sonoma County winery, Equality Vines, which he started with partner Matt Grove.)
"The incumbent, when I announced, in the paper the next day he made some comment that I will be raising money from all across the country. My response to that is, number one, it isn't as if he is only getting money within district," Obergefell told the paper. "He is getting money from around the state of Ohio and from organizations from all across the country. I am no different; I will be raising money from friends and people across the country because I stand for something people value.”
Can he actually win? Let’s turn to the Sandusky Register, which explains that the primary isn’t even scheduled, because Ohio’s redistricting is tied up in the courts. There probably won’t even be a meaningful primary anyway, as Obergefell is the lone Democrat in the race, and his opponent Swearingen is the sole Republican. It’s a district that flipped from Obama to Trump in 2016, but given the uncertainty of what the district’s electorate will look like by November 2022, one imagine Obergefell has a chance.
If you want to attend Obergefell’s fundraiser here in SF, which is at LGBTQ social club The Academy (2166 Market Street) on Wednesday, April 6 from 5-9 p.m, there are free tickets available, though you have to RSVP in advance, and his campaign would surely prefer you instead bought VIP tickets for $250.
Image: WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 04: Plaintiff in the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court case Jim Obergefell speaks during a rally urging the U.S. Senate to hold a confirmation vote for Supreme Court Nominee Merrick Garland outside of The Supreme Court of the United States on October 4, 2016 in Washington, DC. Today marks the 202nd day since President Barack Obama nominated Judge Garland to fill the vacancy left after former Justice Antonin Scalia passed away in February. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)