Marriage Equality Activist Jim Obergefell to Speak at Pitzer College 2024 Commencement

Jim Obergefell, the plaintiff in a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case legalizing same-sex marriage across the country, will deliver the keynote address to the Class of 2024 at this spring’s Commencement ceremony on May 11.

“Jim Obergefell’s personal journey to have his marriage legally recognized resulted in a decision that stands among the most consequential in our nation’s history,” said Pitzer President Strom C. Thacker in a message to the College community this week. “He is an inspiring and iconic figure not only for the LGBTQ+ community, but for us all. As a college deeply rooted in the ethos of social change and equality, Pitzer is honored and excited to welcome Jim to campus this spring.”

Obergefell has described himself as “an accidental activist” from Ohio who found himself and his partner plunged into legal controversy in 2013. After taking on the role of caregiver for John, his partner of more than 20 years who was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Obergefell learned he wouldn’t be recognized as the surviving spouse on John’s death certificate because of Ohio’s same-sex marriage ban. 

这对夫妇, who were legally married in Maryland, decided to challenge Ohio’s ban, and their case eventually went before the Supreme Court, which ruled in in 2015 in favor of marriage equality in Obergefell v. 霍奇斯. Unfortunately, John died before hearing the high court’s decision.

在书中 Love Wins: The Lovers and Lawyers Who Fought the Landmark Case for Marriage Equality, Obergefell and Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Debbie Cenziper chronicle the couple’s story and the legal journey that resulted in a decision praised by President Barack Obama as “a victory for America.”

Since the Court’s decision, Obergefell has continued his activism on behalf of civil rights for all. With the overturning of the abortion rights case Roe v. 韦德, and with ongoing challenges to marriage equality in a number of states, Obergefell has sounded a warning that the fight for privacy rights is far from over.

“我们今天看到, in the wake of the Dobbs decision and the overturning of Roe, that no decision is ever final. Activism remains critically central to civil liberties in our country. I’m honored to bring this message to Pitzer College, a place that embraces and encourages people to use their voices for social change,他说. “I’m thrilled to be able to share my journey with Pitzer’s graduating students. I hope my story will inspire them in their own journeys and encourage them to build on the efforts of all of the brave activists who have gone before them.”

Learn more about the 2024 Commencement at Pitzer.