Jim Obergefell, plaintiff in landmark same-sex marriage case, gets book deal

Jim Obergefell

Jim Obergefell at the Supreme Court, whose decision in his case made same-sex marriage legal nationwide. Obergefell will tell his story, and the story of the fight to legalize gay marriage, in a new book.

(Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

Jim Obergefell, the lead plaintiff in the Supreme Court case that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, will be telling his story in a book scheduled for release next year.

Publisher William Morrow announced it will publish Obergefell’s book, tentatively titled “21 Years to Midnight: The Promise That Brought Marriage Equality,” in June 2016, a year after the Supreme Court handed down its decision in the case Obergefell v. Hodges, which held that same-sex couples are legally entitled to marriage rights.

The book will be co-written by Debbie Cenziper, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who currently reports for the Washington Post.

Obergefell’s book won’t be a memoir, exactly, according to William Morrow, which says it “will not only tell his story, but also the larger narrative that covers what this decision means for America. The book will include the story of Jim and his late husband John Arthur, as well as the other plaintiffs involved.”


In a news release, Obergefell said, “I’m excited to let people into our lives to better understand how our simple desire to live up to our promises to each other resulted in such a landmark decision.”

Obergefell was one of more than 30 plaintiffs in the lawsuits that were consolidated as Obergefell v. Hodges, which the Supreme Court decided by a 5-4 vote. Obergefell sued his home state of Ohio after officials refused to recognize his marriage to his husband, John Arthur, which had been performed in Maryland.

Arthur died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease) three months after the couple were married. The state of Ohio sought to mark his marital status as “single” on his death certificate, but the Supreme Court decision last month means officials will have to issue the certificate reflecting that he was married.

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