Crossroads Hospice offers the gift of a perfect day to its patients, a chance for the dying to do something they’ve always dreamed of. One man asked to ride an Indian motorcycle for his 100th birthday; an extended family went on a bus tour to view Christmas lights; a woman flew to Florida to stick her feet in the sand one last time, then died three hours after she came home.
John Arthur’s been a patient of Crossroads since March, but it wasn’t until June 26 that he settled on his notion of a perfect day. That morning the U.S. Supreme Court struck down portions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. As he watched the announcement from a medical bed in his Over-the-Rhine condo, Arthur and his partner of 20 years, Jim Obergefell, decided that they wanted to marry.
A wedding for the couple would not be easy. Because same-sex marriage is illegal in Ohio, and because the Supreme Court ruling left marriage bans at the state level intact, Arthur and Obergefell couldn’t marry here. The prospect of travel was difficult because Arthur is bedridden with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, a progressive neurological disease that robs patients of their ability to walk, talk and eventually breathe. Within minutes of the Supreme Court decision, the couple started working the phones, email and social media to figure out how they might legally wed.
New York was the closest to drive to, but they’d both need to be there for the license and return for the wedding. Out, they decided.