“Our rights are at risk,” Jim Obergefell said in a press conference Tuesday, referring to Amy Coney Barrett’s all but assured seat on the Supreme Court. Obergefell, the plaintiff in the landmark Supreme Court case that granted same-sex couples the right to legal marriage, has teamed up with Rick Hodges, the onetime director of the Ohio Department of Health and defendant in the suit, to protest the confirmation Barrett’s confirmation.
While Barrett, Obergefell noted, has declined to say whether or not she agrees with the ruling in Obergefell V. Hodges her presumed opposition to the Affordable Care Act would put the health of the broader LGBTQ+ community at greater risk. “Sixty-five percent of LGBTQ people have pre-existing conditions,” Obergfell said, “and are less likely to have health insurance.” He also worried that repealing the ACA would mean revoking the scant protections trans individuals have against discrimination when accessing healthcare, which would be devastating at a time when 28 percent of trans patients have avoided needed care in the past year out of fear of discrimination, even with the protection in place.
“It’s a fundamental right to life,” agreed Rick Hodges, defendant in the case, who said that as a lifelong Republican he does question the financial feasibility of the ACA, but as a director of the Ohio Department of Health he has to recognize that a flat-out repeal would be a death sentence for at-risk communities. “He’s the hero,” Hodges added in reference to Jim Obergefell, whom he now considers a friend, noting that he was mostly just involved in the groundbreaking case because of his job title, though he does now believe the decision was “historic, momentous, and frankly, wonderful” and stands with Democrats in the effort to safeguard it.
Joining Obergefell and Hodges were Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, and Washington Senator Patty Murray, along with Denise Brogan-Kator of Family Equality, a group focused on “advancing lived and legal equality” for LGBTQ families, according to the organization’s website.
But while the union of plaintiff and defendant from one of the most significant Supreme Court cases in history to denounce the confirmation of justice is significant, unfortunately, it also seems largely symbolic.
“When and if the election is contested, the president expects her to be on the Supreme Court,” Senator Brown said. And much to the detriment of everyone who has depended on the Affordable Care Act, Roe v. Wade, and Obergefell v. Hodges, it seems like a shitty but foregone conclusion that she will be.