Columbus Woman Continues Brother's Fight For Marriage Equality


The Supreme Court will hear cases Tuesday deciding the future of same-sex marriage in Ohio and three other states.

For a local woman the fight is personal.

Songs are like stories, they all have beginnings.

To understand the story of Debra James Tucker, you have to go back to August 25, 1960 to learn the story of her brother, James Emanuel Tucker, Jr.

"Very giving, very loyal," Tucker said. "He was an outstanding human being."

The world saw a man with a huge heart and a smile to match. What they didn't see, was his struggle.

"He was a black gay man," Tucker said. "Very much, very deeply involved in church."

Tucker says the church in Mansfield, OH never fully honored her brother for who he truly was on the inside. As a result, he hid in plain sight, singing at church events and never mentioning his sexual orientation to anyone, except his sister.

"One of the things that he wanted most was a family and to feel like he could fully live as himself in the world," Tucker said.

It was something he never got the chance to do.

James Tucker, Jr. died of AIDS in 1992.

Now, 23 years later, his dream lives on and his story continues through Tucker.

"Cause it's the right thing to do," she said.

She advocates for same sex marriage. She speaks and sings at functions whenever she can. All for her brother.

"My honoring that struggle honors the struggle of my brother," Tucker said.

And that is her reason to be happy: knowing one day, possibly soon, her brother won't be a statistic, but a symbol of justice that she will always fight for.

"Whether it's between black and white, gay or straight or rich or poor, it's just the way I think the world ought to be," Tucker said.

Tucker says even if the U.S. Supreme Court does not rule in favor of same sex marriage, the ball of positive change is already in motion and will soon affect Central Ohio.

The nation's highest court is scheduled to begin hearings, Tuesday, both for and against same sex marriage. The justices will face two main questions: Can states ban same sex marriages and do states have to recognize lawful marriages from other states?

Stay with for all the latest on Tuesday's hearings.