Ohio Man at Center of Gay Marriage Debate Heads to Court

The Ohio man at the center of a national gay marriage debate will head to the Supreme Court Tuesday as nine justices are set to decide if states have the right to refuse marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Jim Obergefell, 48, is the namesake of the high court's case known as "Obergefell vs. Hodges"-- a consolidation of six separate lawsuits from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. His lawsuit against Ohio state official Richard Hodges was the first filed among the petitioners. "I'm hopeful the ruling will come out in our favor," Obergefell told NBC News on Friday before departing for Washington, D.C. "It's certainly overwhelming to think that our story, our desire to marry and to be recognized will be heard in the Supreme Court." But the story is more than political for Obergefell, whose partner, John Arthur, was diagnosed with ALS in 2011. The couple, whose wed on a Baltimore airport tarmac, hopes to have their marriage formally recognized on on Arthur's death certificate by the state health department. A federal judge ruled in favor of the recognition, but Ohio appealed and won -- shuttling the case to the Supreme Court.

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