Leaders in the Drive for Marriage Equality

ACLU jim winner ISPHOTO ESSAY BY DONNA ACETO | At a June 16 cocktail reception that featured two of the activists who have helped herald in the nation’s growing embrace of marriage equality, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and AIDS Project of the American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Civil Liberties Union hosted both Edie Windsor, the successful plaintiff in the 2013 challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act, and James Obergefell, who is the named plaintiff in the appeal currently before the Supreme Court of a Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decision that overturned marriage victories in Ohio, Michigan, Tennessee, and Kentucky.

Obergefell, who delivered the keynote address at what was the 17th annual such Pride reception hosted by the ACLU and the NYCLU, filed suit in Ohio to have the death certificate of his late husband, John Arthur, notated to reflect that he was married. The two men had traveled to Maryland in 2013 to get married, several months before Arthur succumbed to Lou Gehrig's disease. The federal district court in Cincinnati ruled that Ohio must recognize the men’s out-of-state marriage, despite its 2004 ban on marriage by same-sex couples. The Sixth Circuit, also based in Cincinnati, overturned that ruling, along with other pro-equality victories in Michigan, Tennessee, and Kentucky in November, setting the stage for the Supreme Court case expected to be settled in the next several days.

Obergefell is seen here alone, greeting Windsor, and with James Esseks, who heads up the ACLU’s LGBT and AIDS Project, and Donna Lieberman, the executive director of the NYCLU.

ACLU jim edie IS

ACLU jim edie james donna IS