- Associated Press - Friday, April 24, 2015

CINCINNATI (AP) - The mayor of an Ohio city that endured a lengthy battle over gay rights more than a decade ago led a “send-off” Friday for plaintiffs in the same-sex marriage cases that will be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court next week.

About a third of the 30-plus plaintiffs in the cases before the court Tuesday either live in or have links to the Cincinnati area.

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley spoke at the gathering outside city hall, recalling the repeal a decade ago of a 1990s city charter amendment widely viewed as unwelcoming to gay and lesbian people. “Here in Cincinnati, we’ve come a long way,” Cranley said.

Jim Obergefell, a plaintiff and resident who will attend part of the Supreme Court arguments, said, “It’s great to live in a city that protects your rights and in a city that stands up for you.”

Obergefell and his late spouse John Arthur won a federal court ruling that was overturned in November by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals based in Cincinnati. The opinion upholding same-sex marriage bans in Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee after a series of federal court rulings in favor of same-sex marriage propelled the issue to the Supreme Court.

Obergefell said he will have a seat in the courtroom for arguments over recognizing marriages performed in other states. His and Arthur’s original lawsuit in Cincinnati was to make sure Obergefell was listed as the surviving spouse on Arthur’s death certificate. The two were married in Maryland. Arthur was dying when the pair brought the lawsuit.

“This is still sinking in a little bit,” Obergefell said of the Supreme Court hearing next week. “I think I’ll just sit there and miss John.”

The mayor said Cincinnati, which now promotes inclusion and diversity, has made “great progress” and is helping take the fight for equality to the nation’s highest court.

Meanwhile, Citizens for Community Values, a suburban Cincinnati group that backed the former city law that was seen as anti-gay, is urging people to pray for “the institution of marriage” and to express their support for Ohio political leaders who are defending the state’s ban.


Contact the reporter at https://www.twitter.com/dansewell

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