SMC Speaker Series: Debbie Cenziper

The case of Obergefell v. Hodges was a landmark decision that changed the lives of LGBT+ people all across America. This was the case that legalized same sex marriage nationwide. At the center of this case were two everyday people who wanted their marriage to be recognized, and the lawyers who helped them get there. Their story is told in Love Wins, co-written by Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Debbie Cenziper. Debbie gave an inspiring and thoughtful lecture hosted by Temple University’s SMC Speaker Series on September 27th.

Debbie is no stranger to Temple, as her father attended the University. Also, Mitchell and Hilarie Morgan Hall, where many students live, was named after her uncle. She noted how much Temple has changed and how excited she was to be back at the university.

Debbie Cenziper, investigative journalist and co-author of
Debbie Cenziper, investigative journalist and co-author of “Love Wins”

At the beginning of her speech, Debbie mentioned that throughout most of her career as an investigative journalist she wrote about tragedies and corruption in our society. But, she wanted to do something different with this issue.

“I wanted this to be a love story,” she said to the students and faculty who came to hear her speak in the atrium of Annenberg Hall.

Debbie spoke about the history of her career, from working for The Miami Herald to The Washington Post. But, the main message of her speech was on the importance of Obergefell v. Hodges and the need for same sex couples to have the basic human right of marriage and protection under the law.

Jim Obergefell, the “Obergefell” in the case’s name, co-authored the book and worked closely with Debbie. His husband, John Arthur, was dying of ALS. They were married in Baltimore in 2013 legally, but when they returned to their home state of Cincinnati, Ohio, their marriage was unrecognized. John was growing weaker, and was told that on his death certificate he would be listed as a single man, instead of a married one. Love Wins tells the story of their fight to have their marriage recognized, and the people and lawyers who helped them succeed.

“On the day that same sex marriage was legalized, Jim held his hand to his heart, turned to me, and said he finally felt like a true American,” Debbie recounted of that historic day.

It was obvious that Debbie was resonating with those listening in the audience, as people were nodding their heads and reacting to her stories. She gave advice to aspiring journalists and writers on the importance of words and to use those words to inspire positive change throughout the world. After her speech, Debbie answered questions, signed books, and spoke to people one-on-one on this historic decision and important story that needed to be told.

Debbie Cenziper’s lecture was part of SMC’s 2016-2017 Graduate Speaker Series. To learn more about this series visit the event page. Upcoming events and news will be added once it becomes available. To learn more about the book Love Wins: The Lovers and Lawyers Who Fought the Landmark Case for Marriage Equality visit its Barnes and Noble site for information on the book, reviews, and an interview with Debbie herself.



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