Connect with us

National

Federal judge rules Ohio birth certificate policy is unconstitutional

Watson ruled that the policy violated the 14th Amendment

Published

on

Joseph P. Kinnerary U.S. Courthouse, Columbus, Ohio
(Photo Credit: Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division)

COLUMBUS, Ohio – A federal court on Wednesday struck down an Ohio policy that prevented transgender people from changing the gender marker on their birth certificates, clearing the way for trans residents to alter their legal documentation to reflect their gender identity. 

The judge, Michael Watson, stated in his decision that Ohio had previously allowed people to change their birth certificates but the policy, which was instituted in 2016, violates the state’s constitution. 

The case, Ray v. McClous, was filed more than two years ago by Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Ohio and Thompson Hine on behalf of plaintiffs Stacie Ray, Basil Argento, Ashley Breda and Jane Doe. The plaintiffs are all trans Ohio residents who were denied when they attempted to change their birth certificates to match their gender identities. 

Prior to Wednesday’s ruling, Ohio was one of just two states that prohibited alterations to residents’ gender markers. Tennessee is now the only state with this type of policy. 

Melanie Amato, press secretary for Ohio’s Department of Public Health, said in a statement that they were reviewing the decision but did not say whether the state would challenge the court’s decision. 

Watson ruled that the policy violated the 14th Amendment, which states that states must provide equal protection under the law for its citizens and cannot set “intentional and arbitrary” discriminatory policies. 

“At bottom, the court finds that defendants’ proffered justifications are nothing more than thinly veiled post-hoc rationales to deflect from the discriminatory impact of the policy,” he wrote in the ruling.

According to a 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey almost a third of trans people who showed an identity document with a gender marker that contradicted their perceived gender were harassed, assaulted or discriminated against. 

“[Birth certificates] are foundational to our ability to access a variety of benefits such as employment and housing, and to navigate the world freely and safely, as who we truly are,” Kara Ingelhart, one of the attorneys for Lambda Legal, said in a statement. “Courts across the country have overwhelmingly determined these archaic and harmful laws are unconstitutional and today we are closer than ever to eradicating them once and for all.”

Continue Reading
Advertisement

National

Pulse nightclub survivor ‘at a loss’ over Texas elementary school massacre

Brandon Wolf is Equality Florida’s press secretary

Published

on

Brandon Wolf was a Grand Marshal at the 2019 Capital Pride Parade on June 8, 2019. (Washington Blade photo by Adam Hall)

ORLANDO, Fla. — A survivor of the Pulse nightclub massacre on Wednesday said he is “at a loss” over the massacre at a Texas elementary school that left 21 people dead.

“Twenty-one people were murdered,” said Equality Florida Press Secretary Brandon Wolf in a statement he sent to the Washington Blade a day after a gunman killed 21 people inside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. “Nineteen of them were children — babies. That means 19 families sent their elementary age kids off to school only to get the worst news: That their babies would be leaving class in body bags.”

Wolf was inside the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., on June 12, 2016, when a gunman opened fire and killed 49 people. His two close friends — Christopher “Drew” Leinonen and his fiancé, Juan Guerrero — were among those killed.

Wolf in his statement noted “right wing politicians have spent the past year insisting that the greatest threats our children face are the potential they’ll learn that this nation was built on the backs of enslaved Black people or that their teacher uses they/them pronouns.”

“They’ve banned books, censored curriculum and bastardized history lessons,” said Wolf. “All the while, they haven’t lifted a finger to protect kids from what is killing them.”

Equality Florida echoed Wolf’s sentiments.

“I am heartbroken for the shattered families,” added Wolf. “Grief-stricken for these stolen lives. And enraged at the power-hungry leaders who have chosen time and again to serve up this country’s most vulnerable as sacrifices in exchange for a boost up the ladder of their own ambitions.”

Axel Rodríguez’s friend, Xavier Serrano Rosado, died inside the Pulse nightclub.

Rodríguez told the Blade that Tuesday was “such a dad day for us here” in Orlando.

“It is like going through the same emotions we had when the attack at Pulse happened, but it’s even worse because we are talking about children,” he said. “When will our government stop thinking about money and stop this madness? Everyone now can obtain a gun anywhere. I just cannot comprehend that at all.”

The Pulse nightclub massacre was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history until a gunman on Oct. 1, 2017, killed 60 people at a concert in Las Vegas.

A gunman on Feb. 14, 2018, killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Twenty children and six adults died in the massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14, 2012.

The Robb Elementary School massacre took place less than three years after a gunman killed 22 people at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas.

“There are no words,” tweeted Pride Center San Antonio, which is roughly 90 minutes east of Robb Elementary School, on Wednesday.

“Our hearts are with the Uvalde community,” said Equality Texas on Tuesday. “Every child deserves to free safe at school.”

Continue Reading

Montana

Montana Dept. of Health & Human Services defies court on Trans order

The State is willfully refusing to comply & in doing so is showing their true colors- these regulations are about harming trans Montanans

Published

on

Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services building (Screenshot/Montana Public Radio)

BILLINGS, Mt. – The state of Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) is openly defying an order by a state district court which had granted a preliminary injunction requiring the agency to comply with the Court’s order to return to the 2017 standard for changing the gender marker on birth certificates.

Nearly one month after a state district court granted a preliminary injunction in Marquez v. State of Montana, the State is still refusing to comply.  

On April 21, 2022, a Yellowstone County District Court ordered the state to stop enforcing SB 280, a law passed last year that restricts how and when the gender marker on a Montana birth certificate can be changed, and to revert to the previous procedure in place for updating the gender marker on a birth certificate. That procedure allowed for transgender Montanans to update the gender marker on their birth certificate through various means, including completion of a simple attestation form.  

The department issued an emergency order Monday claiming that the agency is unable to comply saying said the court’s decision leaves them in “an ambiguous and uncertain situation,” which officials are blaming saying they cannot return to the “status quo” as requested by the court order, because that system no longer exists, since SB 280 required the department eliminate the 2017 rule.

“The court did not issue a mandatory injunction directing the department to re-implement the 2017 rule,” the emergency rule read. “Accordingly, there is currently no non-enjoined regulatory mechanism by which the department can accept and process birth certificate sex identification amendment applications.”

“Sex is different from gender and is an immutable genetic fact, which is not changeable, even by surgery,” the DPHHS emergency rule continued.

The ACLU of Montana, the ACLU Foundation LGBTQ & HIV Project, and Nixon Peabody LLP who represented the two transgender plaintiffs who sought to change the gender marker on their birth certificates, and challenged Senate bill SB 280 passed by the 2021 Montana Legislature that changed the gender marker rule on birth certificates, issued a statement:

“The Court order could not be more clear. The Court ordered the State to preserve the status quo by providing our clients and all transgender Montanans the ability to amend the gender marker on their birth certificates—as was the law prior to the passage of SB 280. The State is willfully refusing to comply, and in doing so is showing their true colors – these laws and regulations are about harming transgender Montanans. We intend to take this up in Court.” 

In an email, DPHHS spokesman Jon Ebelt wrote, “The Department of Public Health and Human Services believes that all individuals should be treated with dignity and respect, and that they should be provided all of the rights and protections to which they are entitled under the Constitutions and laws of the State of Montana and of the United States. As noted in the emergency rule, the Department has an obligation to ensure the accuracy of vital records. The rule obeys the court’s order, addresses a critical regulatory gap, and remains consistent with current law, as well as the science.”

“In the state’s non-compliance with the order, they showed their true colors,” said Akilah Lane, staff attorney for the Montana ACLU. “These laws and this emergency rule are intended to harm transgender Montanans, and that’s what it has done.”

Lane said the ACLU intends to take up this matter in court and they’ve been in communication with opposing counsel on the case.

Continue Reading

Florida

Florida gulf coast high schooler Outs himself proudly at graduation

‘You can’t really acknowledge your achievements if you’re not acknowledging your true self,” Harless said about coming Out.

Published

on

William Harless (Screenshot/WWSB ABC7)

VENICE, Fl. – In an era of YouTube coming out, Instagram posts, or even dramatic Tik-Tok reels, one graduating senior at Venice High School found a dramatic way to Out himself to the world as gay in a novel way.

William Harless walked across the stage this past week to receive his diploma and as he crossed, he carried an unfurled Progress Pride Flag.

In an interview with Sarasota television station WWSB ABC7, Harless says this is something he was looking to do since his seventh grade days in West Virginia. Five years later he says this felt like it was the right moment.

“The reason I chose graduation to come out is because I really wanted to stay true to myself, because graduation is all about your achievements,” said Harless. “And you can’t really acknowledge your achievements if you’re not acknowledging your true self.”

“It feels amazing, like a weight has been taken off my shoulders,” said Harless. “I have really been able to stay true to myself because I no longer feel like I don’t need to hide a part of myself. I feel genuinely free.”

Referencing another graduating Florida high school senior who had his graduation address censored by school authorities; “With all the issues and topics of coming out, I don’t want people who are in the LGBTQ+ community to feel they are censored,” said Harless.

He told WWSB that his family and friends have been very supportive.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @LosAngelesBlade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Popular