Same-sex marriage: Who is Jim Obergefell, the man at the heart of the Supreme Court ruling?

Gay and lesbian couples across America now have the right to marry

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With the Supreme Court ruling in favour of marriage equality this afternoon, it’s now legal for all Americans, regardless of gender or sexual orientation to marry.

Celebrity support has been huge, but as well as RTing Hilary Clinton and whacking an LGBT ribbon to your avatar it’s important that people look at the man who helped make it possible: Jim Obergefell.

Jim was the lead plaintiff in the case which has changed gay rights in America forever. His case will not only affect about 200 million Americans and the laws they live under, but it will continue to affect millions for generations to come.

Obergefell wanted to overturn the archaic laws which prevented him from marrying his partner of 21 years, John Arthur, in his home state of Ohio.

The two could only get married in one of the US states which had passed same-sex marriage. Due to Arthur’s deteriorating health – he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in 2011 – time was against them.

“In a perfect world, I could've put John in his wheelchair and taken him six blocks to our county courthouse to get our marriage license and then marry in the comfort, safety or our home,” Obergefell told Yahoo! News. “But unfortunately we didn't have that luxury.”

Instead they flew to Baltimore in a special plane that was equipped to help transport Arthur safely, and married in a brief ceremony that took place in the plane, parked on the tarmac, before flying back home.

But when Arthur passed away, Obergefell wanted to be legally recognised as the widower of his late partner, and so began his campaign to challenge state bureaucracy and change history forever.

Immediately after the ruling this afternoon, Obergefell said: “Now at long last, Ohio will recognize our marriage and most important marriage equality will come to every state across our country. It’s my hope that the term ‘gay marriage’ will soon be a thing of the past. That from this day forward, it will simply be ‘marriage.’ And our nation will be better off because of it.”

Jim Obergefell has helped make history today, and with any luck will go down as a essential part of the gay rights movement.

Watch the clip of President Obama congratulating Jim below: