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Same-sex marriage: The personal stories behind the Court battle

Crowds of people gathered outside of the Supr... 00:26

The Supreme Court on Friday declared that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to get married, marking a historic evolution in the concept of marriage.

For many people, the ruling is about more than just a concept -- it's about their individual rights and their personal relationships. CBS News spoke to several people with a stake in the outcome of Obergefell v. Hodges. Click through to learn about the man at the center of the case, Jim Obergefell, and to see other personal stories.

Jim Obergefell seeks recognition of his marriage

It's been a long road for Obergefell, whose m... 01:16

In the Obergefell v. Hodges case, plaintiff Jim Obergefell was specifically seeking the right to be listed on his husband's death certificate. Obergefell and his longtime partner John Arthur were legally married in Maryland in 2013, when Arthur was terminally ill. However, since their home state of Ohio did not recognize same-sex marriages, the state refused Obergefell's request to be listed on Arthur's death certificate.

When CBS News' Jan Crawford asked Obergefell earlier this year what Arthur would think of the ongoing legal battle, Obergefell said, "I think -- I know -- he's proud. I know he would thank me for living up to my promises to him, for living up to my marriage vows to fight for him, to love him, to honor him and to protect him."

After the Supreme Court ruling on Friday that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, Obergefell told Crawford about his reaction to the historic victory for gay equality.

"Finally I am an American," he said. "I could finally relax knowing that the state of Ohio can never erase our marriage from John's death certificate."

He said President Obama called him to thank him for his central role in the fight for same-sex marriage, and he said Vice President Biden "called me his hero."

"John and I never thought we would have the ability to get married to begin with," he said. "It's unbelievable."

A Texas couple prepares to say "I do"

Vic Holmes and Mark Phariss were so confident... 00:50

Vic Holmes and Mark Phariss were so certain the Supreme Court would legalize same-sex marriage nationwide, they booked a facility for their wedding in November in Frisco, Texas - despite the fact that Texas did not yet permit gay couples to wed.

"I really feel very strongly that we're going to prevail in this," Holmes told CBS News in April after he and Phariss attended oral arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges, the case that ultimately extended same-sex marriage rights to couples in all 50 states.

When Friday's ruling came down, Pharris said he and Holmes were "overjoyed. "

"After almost 18 years together, we can soon exchange vows, place rings on each other's finger, look each other in the eye and say 'I do' -- all at a wedding surrounded by family and friends," he said. "We can't wait!"

Holmes was elated as well."That Mark and I can finally marry in our home state, surrounded by friends and family, is a dream come true," he said. "For the thousands of gay and lesbian Texans, I'm thrilled beyond words to share that dream. Thanks to the Supreme Court for recognizing that love is important."

And their wedding plans are moving ahead."We expect we'll have around 300 people, not small but not a huge wedding," Pharriss told CBS News in an email. "We've also now booked a quartet, a baker, a caterer for an after wedding party, etc."

An activist reflects on the fight for same-sex marriage

Tracy Hollister has fought for gay rights for... 00:40

When gay rights activist Tracy Hollister heard that the Supreme Court declared that marriage is a constitutional right for all couples, gay or straight, she was "overwhelmed and overcome with emotion."

But she wasn't surprised.

"Many of us in the movement had no doubt that the decision would be made as it was today," she told CBS. After traveling to Washington, D.C. in April to sit in on the Obergefell v. Hodges oral arguments, she was even more convinced the ruling would come down in the favor of marriage equality.

Still, Hollister said that achieving marriage equality was only possible after decades of activism. She herself dedicated 11 years to the cause.

"It was exciting to be a part of the momentum that became unstoppable, to create a positive climate in which today's decision could be made," she said. "For me, what this means is we are a more whole America, the promise of equal opportunity and freedom for all Americans is more fulfilled. We LBGT Americans belong more today in the fabric of society."

She added, "This is not same-sex marriage, this is just marriage."

Now that her activism has paid off in the U.S., Hollister is traveling the globe, working on a book about marriage equality around the world. She's gone to Australia, New Zealand and Ireland so far, and she heads to Canada next.

"We have many of the same stories and scenes in our lives," she said. "We're all just human beings. We can't control where we're born, and we can't control our sexual orientation."

A long, hard road to marriage equality

Reena Flores/ CBS

For 62-year-old Linda Robinette, who was institutionalized in the 1960s in Texas for being gay, it's been a long, hard road to marriage equality.

"We were married across the street from the Supreme Court four years ago this June," Robinette told CBS News outside of the court after the Obergefell v. Hodges decision was released.

She met her wife Jennifer Martinez online, and they have been together for six years.

"We're overjoyed," Martinez said, before kissing her wife in celebration. "We're very ready to have our family finally be recognized."

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