University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name Ray v. Ohio Department of Health PB-OH-0011
Docket / Court 2:18-cv-00272-MHW-CMV ( S.D. Ohio )
State/Territory Ohio
Case Type(s) Public Benefits / Government Services
Attorney Organization ACLU Affiliates (any)
Lambda Legal
Case Summary
On March 29, 2018, four transgender people seeking to correct their Ohio birth certificates to accurately reflect their gender identity filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio (in Columbus). The plaintiffs sued the Director of the Ohio Department of Health ... read more >
On March 29, 2018, four transgender people seeking to correct their Ohio birth certificates to accurately reflect their gender identity filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio (in Columbus). The plaintiffs sued the Director of the Ohio Department of Health under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Represented by the ACLU and Lambda Legal, the plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief as well as attorneys’ fees and costs. The case was assigned to Judge Michael H. Watson.

The plaintiffs wished to change their birth certificates to avoid discrimination, privacy invasions, harassment, humiliation, stigma, harm to their health, and violence. They claimed that, in barring transgender people from obtaining accurate birth certificates matching their gender identity, the Department of Health had violated federal constitutional guarantees, including the rights to equal protection, due process, and freedom from compelled speech. On April 5, 2018, the court granted a request by the plaintiffs to proceed pseudonymously and a protective order to be referred to pseudonymously in court documents. (2018 WL 8804858).

On July 6, 2018, the state filed a motion to dismiss due to failure to state a claim, arguing that the plaintiffs did not state a true violation of the U.S. Constitution. Specifically, Ohio argued that birth certificates purely express sex and not gender identity under Ohio statutes; that the plaintiffs failed to properly state a claim of due process violation; and that preventing birth certificate changes served state interests.

On July 21, 2018, Ohio filed a motion to stay discovery until their motion to dismiss had been resolved. The state argued that the plaintiffs were already serving overly broad discovery requests at the expense of taxpayer money for a case that was primarily legal in nature, despite the fact that a successful motion to dismiss would resolve most actions in this case. The state argued that in the interests of saving resources, a stay of discovery should be ordered until a decision on their motion had been finalized.

On October 10, 2018, the district court denied the state's motion to stay discovery, citing that a “garden-variety” motion to dismiss, was not sufficient grounds to stay discovery. (2018 WL 4907080). Nearly a year later, on September 12, 2019, the judge denied the motion to dismiss. Specifically, the judge found that Ohio statutes were not clear on whether a transgender individual could obtain a birth certificate change, violations of due process were properly alleged, and that the argument that preventing birth certificate changes served a state interest lacked merit. (2019 WL 11791719)

Both sides moved for summary judgment on January 16, 2020. On December 16, 2020, Judge Watson granted the plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment and denied the government's; Judge Watson based this on a logical disconnect between Ohio’s stated reasons for denying the documentation (historical accuracy and preventing fraud) and the fact that the state had, as recently as 2016, allowed transgender people to change the sex marker on state documents. (507 F.Supp.3d 925)

On February 1, 2021, the plaintiffs filed a motion for attorney fees. On March 26, the court stayed this motion pending a joint status report detailing the discussions between the parties on the attorney fees motion and the government's compliance with the December 16 order.

On June 23, 2021, Judge Watson signed a consent judgment which stipulated that the government would issue correct documents to the plaintiffs reflecting their gender identity, would seal the incorrect documents in a vault away from the public, and that the decision in this case would affect only the parties to the case and not other transgender people seeking similar relief in Ohio. The court ordered that a status report be submitted no later than July 26, 2021. As of the writing of this summary, the case remains open.

Jake Parker - 06/11/2018
Carter Powers Beggs - 10/31/2019
John Duffield - 07/21/2021


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Due Process: Substantive Due Process
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Hospital/Health Department
Discrimination-basis
Gender identity
General
Classification / placement
Drivers Licenses
Gay/lesbian/transgender
Government Services (specify)
Record-keeping
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) The State of Ohio
Plaintiff Description Four transgender individuals who sought to change their Ohio birth certificates to reflect their gender identity.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Affiliates (any)
Lambda Legal
Class action status sought No
Class action status outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Document/information produced
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Filed 03/29/2018
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
click to show/hide detail
  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Ray et al. v. Himes et al.
ACLU of Ohio
Date: Mar. 29, 2018
By: ACLU Ohio
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
S.D. Ohio
07/20/2021
2:18-cv-272
PB-OH-0011-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
S.D. Ohio
03/29/2018
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PB-OH-0011-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Ohio
04/05/2018
Order [ECF# 9] (2018 WL 8804858)
PB-OH-0011-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: Westlaw
S.D. Ohio
10/10/2018
Opinion and Order [ECF# 31] (2018 WL 4907080)
PB-OH-0011-0002.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Ohio
09/12/2019
Opinion and Order [ECF# 47] (2019 WL 11791719)
PB-OH-0011-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Ohio
12/16/2020
Opinion and Order [ECF# 80] (507 F.Supp.3d 925)
PB-OH-0011-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Westlaw
S.D. Ohio
06/23/2021
Consent Judgment [ECF# 96]
PB-OH-0011-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Vascura, Chelsey M. Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
PB-OH-0011-0002 | PB-OH-0011-0005
Watson, Michael H. (S.D. Ohio) show/hide docs
PB-OH-0011-0003 | PB-OH-0011-0004 | PB-OH-0011-0006 | PB-OH-0011-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Arkles, Gabriel (New York) show/hide docs
PB-OH-0011-0001 | PB-OH-0011-9000
Becker, Susan Jane (Ohio) show/hide docs
PB-OH-0011-0001 | PB-OH-0011-0004 | PB-OH-0011-9000
Bonham, Elizabeth (Ohio) show/hide docs
PB-OH-0011-0001 | PB-OH-0011-9000
Carey, David J. (Ohio) show/hide docs
PB-OH-0011-0001 | PB-OH-0011-0004 | PB-OH-0011-9000
Ingelhart, Kara N. (Illinois) show/hide docs
PB-OH-0011-0004 | PB-OH-0011-9000
Knight, John A. (Illinois) show/hide docs
PB-OH-0011-0001 | PB-OH-0011-0004 | PB-OH-0011-9000
Levenson, Freda J. (Ohio) show/hide docs
PB-OH-0011-0001 | PB-OH-0011-0004 | PB-OH-0011-9000
Picasso, Malita (New York) show/hide docs
PB-OH-0011-0004
Renn, Peter C. (California) show/hide docs
PB-OH-0011-0001 | PB-OH-0011-0004 | PB-OH-0011-9000
Roach, Jennifer S. (Ohio) show/hide docs
PB-OH-0011-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Appel, Henry G (Ohio) show/hide docs
PB-OH-0011-9000
Blake, Jason J. (Ohio) show/hide docs
PB-OH-0011-0004 | PB-OH-0011-9000
Lucas, Albert J. (Ohio) show/hide docs
PB-OH-0011-0004 | PB-OH-0011-9000
Moses, Kimberly (Ohio) show/hide docs
PB-OH-0011-9000

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -