I never wanted to be the face of a movement. I just wanted to marry the man that I loved.

How I took my fight all the way to the Supreme Court and became an advocate for LGBT rights.

I never wanted to be the face of a movement. I just wanted to marry the man that I loved.

How I took my fight all the way to the Supreme Court and became an advocate for LGBT rights.

Recently, I realized something people say all the time is actually true.

One person—or a group—standing up for what’s right actually can change the world. Even if that wasn’t the original plan.

A few years ago, my partner and I wanted to get married. He was sick, and we wanted to make sure the last record of our relationship wasn’t a lie.

Little did we know, this would take us all the way to the Supreme Court. We never expected to win—but we did.

I never wanted to be the face of a movement. I just wanted to marry the man that I loved.

The third time John and I saw each other, we fell in love.

We built our life together in Cincinnati, Ohio. Over the years, we talked about marriage, but we wanted to wait until it actually carried legal weight.

Then, in 2011, almost 20 years into our relationship, John was diagnosed with ALS.

By 2013, he was bedridden, and in at-home hospice care. I was his full time caregiver.

On June 26 of that year, when the Supreme Court ruled that part of the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional, I proposed. It was our first opportunity to get married, and have our government acknowledge us.

I was losing the love of my life, just as the country began moving towards equality.

We couldn’t get married at home in Cincinnati due to Ohio’s constitutional amendment, so I had to figure out where we could go. We chose Maryland, because that state didn’t require both people appear in person to apply for a marriage license.

After I got the license, we flew back together on a chartered medical jet. We landed at Baltimore Washington International Airport, parked on the tarmac, and got married right there, on July 11, 2013.

I never wanted to be the face of a movement. I just wanted to marry the man that I loved.

Then we flew home.

But even though the country had changed, Ohio hadn’t.

A few days later, we met a civil rights attorney who shared some bad news:

“I’m sure you don’t realize this, but when John dies, his last official record as a person will be incorrect,” he said. “Ohio will say he’s single—and Jim, your name won’t be there as his surviving spouse.”

It broke our hearts. It made us angry. We filed suit against the state of Ohio that Friday.

Three days later, a judge issued a temporary order that forced Ohio to complete John’s death certificate accurately when he died. We won.

Three months later, John was gone.

The following July, the judge made that temporary order permanent—then, the State of Ohio appealed.

And … you know how that ended up.

I never wanted to be the face of a movement. I just wanted to marry the man that I loved.

Even though marriage equality is now legal nationwide, I’m still fighting.

When we sued, I wasn’t thinking about the future—at that point, the future meant John’s death.

But Ohio’s refusal to acknowledge us ended up giving me a level of recognition I never wanted to have—and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I get to keep telling our love story and talking about an incredible moment in our country’s history. I get to keep fighting for us.

Too many people think that the fight for LGBT rights ended with marriage equality—but that’s not true.

Some Americans believe discriminating against an LGBT person is illegal. It isn’t.

Across this country, people can still be fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Our transgender brothers and sisters are being murdered, simply for trying to live their lives. Trans women of color are being killed at an alarmingly high rate. As many as 40 percent of homeless youth are LGBT, and a large portion of them, I’m certain, are homeless because of the discrimination that they face.

That’s why I endorsed Hillary Clinton. Not only does she understand how important the continued fight for equality is, but she has the experience, the knowledge, and the drive to get things done—and to make life safer and more equal for LGBT Americans.

I did what I did for love.

I never wanted to be the face of a movement. I just wanted to marry the man that I loved.

I fight for John, and for all the people who want to be able to love freely and openly, to love themselves, without fear.

John lives on in me. And he lives on through this fight.

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