(WASHINGTON) — President Obama spoke by phone Friday with the man behind the landmark Supreme Court case that says gay and lesbian couples across the country have the constitutional right to marry no matter what state they live in.
Shortly before addressing the nation, Obama spoke with Jim Obergefell, who was the lead plaintiff on the case heard by the Supreme Court, a White House official told ABC News.
Obergefell was standing in front of the Supreme Court building when he spoke with the president on his cell phone, according to video shot by CNN.
“Is this Jim,” the president is heard saying.
“Yes it is, Mr. President,” Obergefell replied.
“When I saw you, that we were going to be hoping for some good news and we did. And I just wanted to say congratulations,” the president said. “Your leadership on this has changed the country.”
“I really appreciate that Mr. President. It’s really been an honor for me to be involved in this fight and to have been able to you know fight for my marriage and live up to my commitments to my husband. So I appreciate, I appreciate everything you’ve done for the LGBT community and it’s really an honor to have become part of that fight,” Obergefell said in response.
“Well I’m really proud of you,” the president added. “Not only have you been a great example for people but you’re also…going to bring about lasting change in this country. It’s pretty rare when that happens, so I couldn’t be prouder of you and your husband and God bless you.”
Obergefell sued his home state of Ohio to make the state bureaucracy recognize him as the widower of his late partner of 21 years, John Arthur. The two men were legally Maryland a few months before John died in 2013, but Ohio law prohibited gay marriage from being “valid in or recognized by” the state.
Obergefell’s lawyers argued his case before the Supreme Court in April, and on Fridya the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to strike down bans on same-sex marriage, effectively making same-sex marriage legal across the country.
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