Author: Debbie Cenziper, Jim Obergefell
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Summary: This was both a beautiful, emotional love story and a fantastic personal look at a defining moment in American history.
As lawyer Al Gerhardstein said, every civil rights case begins with a story. The case of Obergefell v. Hodges, the case in which the Supreme Court declared same sex marriage bans unconstitutional, began when Jim Obergefell and John Arthur fell in love. After a decades-long, committed relationship the couple found out that John had ALS. One of John’s last wishes was to provide for his spouse, but Ohio did not recognize their Maryland marriage. Jim’s decision to fight to fulfill John’s last wish led to this landmark moment in the history of gay rights.
Written by Jim Obergefell and Pulitzer Prize winner Debbie Cenziper, I knew this book was going to be good. What I didn’t know was how emotional the story would be. I picked this up thinking of it as the story of a gay rights victory. This was only part of the story. The authors’ selection of moments and quotes to share from each court appearance were engaging, but the most moving part of the story was Jim and John’s relationship. Even without the discrimination they were facing, I cannot imagine going through what they did. I basically cried through the entire first half of the book.
For me, the emotional impact is what really set this book apart. However, I shouldn’t let that prevent me from telling you how good all other aspects of the book were. The story was well told and well organized. The use of direct quotes; the simple explanations of how each court appearance proceeded; and the focus on the most critical moments of the case plus lots of personal stories; made this book easy to follow and hard to put down. A must read.