Jim Obergefell, who was at the center of the 2015 Supreme Court case that legalized marriage equality in the United States, announced Tuesday that he is running for a seat in the Ohio House of Representatives.
“We should all be able to participate fully in society and the economy, living in strong communities with great public schools, access to quality healthcare, and with well-paying jobs that allow us to stay in the community we love, with the family we care about,” Obergefell said in a statement.
Obergefell grew up in Sandusky, Ohio, and attended the University of Cincinnati. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, he moved back to Sandusky last year. He is now running there as a Democrat in the 89th House District, currently held by Republican D.J. Swearingen.
Obergefell came to his fame through tragedy. In 2011, his longtime partner John Arthur was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease. Two years later, they were legally wed in Maryland. But they were married just over three months before Arthur died. The pair had been together for 22 years.
Obergefell’s home state of Ohio still banned same-sex marriage at that time, and therefore he could not be listed as the surviving spouse on Arthur’s death certificate. His decision to sue the state of Ohio set him on a course to change U.S. history.
The suit was one of four that went before the Supreme Court in this group. Because his case number was the lowest, per court tradition, everything was lumped under Obergefell’s name.
Obergefell, 55, was not involved in politics before the Supreme Court case. In 2015, a Washington Post profile described him as “a soft-spoken real estate broker with little previous interest in political activism.”
Because of his national profile and LGBTQ activism, Obergefell will likely be able to attract significant funds for his campaign.