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Obergefell and Hodges – the two men on opposite sides of the Supreme Court marriage equality case – unite against Amy Coney Barrett

Emma Powys Maurice October 20, 2020
Amy Coney Barrett

James Obergefell (left) and Rick Hodges (right) are both opposing Amy Coney Barrett (Getty/Facebook)

James Obergefell and Rick Hodges, the two men who opposed each other in the landmark Supreme Court battle for marriage equality, have united in condemnation of Amy Coney Barrett.

Obergefell sued the state of Ohio for the recognition of his marriage in 2015. Hodges was named as the main defendant as head of the Ohio Department of Public Health, but openly said he “hoped we lost” as he personally supported marriage equality.

After the case closed the pair became good friends. They are now preparing to give a joint press conference to oppose Donald Trump’s right-wing Supreme Court nominee and the threat she poses to fundamental civil rights – the first time they have ever joined forces for a single cause.

The virtual event at 3.30pm ET on Tuesday (October 20) is organised by the LGBT+ non-profit Family Equality, and will also include three senators — Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Patty Murray of Washington and Ron Wyden of Oregon.

“Barrett’s nomination sparked concerns about the rightward tilt of the court and its impact on LGBT+ people — specifically as it relates to full marriage equality, with all of its attendant rights and responsibilities, which a majority of Americans support, the employment nondiscrimination protections precedent set in Bostockand the Affordable Care Act,” the group said in a statement ahead of the event.

Obergefell and Hodges aren’t the only ones seriously alarmed by the prospect of Supreme Court justice Amy Coney Barrett.

Speaking at Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing, vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris warned that Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s legacy of equality risks being irrevocably “undone” as the rights she fought so hard to protect are thrown into jeopardy.

And earlier this week former presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg voiced his fears that his marriage to his husband Chasten could be in danger if Barrett is confirmed and the Supreme Court gains a solid conservative majority.

Barrett remained tight-lipped through her confirmation hearing and refused to comment on the Supreme Court’s previous rulings protecting LGBT+ rights, because she “can’t grade precedent”. She later said her refusal was “certainly not indicating disagreement”.

However, it was hard to miss the homophobic dogwhistle she used twice on the second day of her hearing, referring to sexuality as a “preference” — words which instantly set alarm bells ringing for the LGBT+ community. She later apologised.

It was also noted that Barrett heaped praise upon former Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, who has pushed back against LGBT+ rights at almost every opportunity throughout his career.

And then there’s the small matter of her extensive ties to a listed anti-LGBT+ hate group that has brought countless cases seeking to undermine LGBT+ discrimination protections, as well as leading international efforts to oppose the decriminalisation of homosexuality.

Barrett claimed she wasn’t aware of their anti-LGBT+ views.

More: Amy Coney Barrett, Family Equality, marriage equality, Obergefell v. Hodges, same sex marriage, supreme court

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