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Intersection - Path to Supreme Court for Same-Sex Marriage, the Power of Stories with Jim Obergefell

Photo courtesy of T.J. Thomson
From left to right: Samantha Koester, Timothy Blair, Jim Obergefell and T.J. Thomson.

This week on Intersection we are joined by Jim Obergefell , who was the plaintiff in the landmark Supreme Court case that legalized same-sex marriage. Obergefell visited the University of Missouri earlier this month to present a lecture called “Love Wins” for a symposium on the Science of Love. Timothy Blair also joined the conversation. Blair is an alumnus of the Missouri School of Journalism, and in 2015 he donated $1 million to create the Timothy D. Blair Fund for LGBT Coverage in Journalism. 

Mizzou Queer Media Association president T.J. Thomson and and vice president Samantha Koester sat down with Obergefell and Blair to talk about their experiences.


  • Obergefell’s journey to the Supreme Court began after he married his ailing partner in Maryland. Since the two lived in Ohio, when his husband died, Obergefell wouldn’t be recognized as a surviving spouse.

  • Obergefell says he and his husband didn't consider themselves activists. “You know I never wanted to be someone that people recognized that people would see and say oh I know who that is and stop me to talk…John and I were very quiet private people,” he said. “We certainly weren't activists. And when this started, we started it because it was about the two of us. It was very personal. It was about our relationship and wanting our relationship to matter. And after John died and as the case continued to go forward you know I did become the face of this effort for marriage equality.”

  • Obergefell and Blair said that while progress has been made, there is still work to be done to advance LGBT rights. Blair says that for younger generations, it’s important to recognize that LGBT rights activists should “stand should-to-shoulder” with others being discriminated against.

  • Assistant producers for this show are Elena Rivera, Beatriz Costa-Lima and Drew Mathieu.

Sara Shahriari was the assistant news director at KBIA-FM, and she holds a master's degree from the Missouri School of Journalism. Sara hosted and was executive producer of the PRNDI award-winning weekly public affairs talk show Intersection. She also worked with many of KBIA’s talented student reporters and teaches an advanced radio reporting lab. She previously worked as a freelance journalist in Bolivia for six years, where she contributed print, radio and multimedia stories to outlets including Al Jazeera America, Bloomberg News, the Guardian, the Christian Science Monitor, Deutsche Welle and Indian Country Today. Sara’s work has focused on mental health, civic issues, women’s and children’s rights, policies affecting indigenous peoples and their lands and the environment. While earning her MA at the Missouri School of Journalism, Sara produced the weekly Spanish-language radio show Radio Adelante. Her work with the KBIA team has been recognized with awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and PRNDI, among others, and she is a two-time recipient of funding from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.