2 LGBTQ groups join effort in Warren County name-change lawsuit

Lawyers from two advocacy groups for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youths have joined three families in a lawsuit filed against a Warren County judge about his refusal to grant a transgender name change.

U.S. District Judge William O. Bertelsman has scheduled oral arguments in the lawsuit against Warren County Common Pleas Court Judge Joe Kirby for Oct. 24 in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati.

Lawyers from National Center for Lesbian Rights in San Francisco have joined Josh Langdon, a local lawyer representing the Warren County families in the lawsuit.

A lawyer for the Trevor Project, a national organization based in Cleveland and providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ young people, will be permitted to file a brief in support of their case.

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Stephanie and Kylen Whitaker filed the federal lawsuit on Aug. 3 after Kirby rejected the name change sought in Warren County Juvenile Court on behalf of their 15-year-old child.

Kirby said the change was not “reasonable and proper and in the child’s best interest at this time.”

The second family’s case involves a pending case, and the third, a defendant identified as Jane Doe.

On Friday, Langdon filed a brief in response to Bertelsman’s order earlier this week and setting the stage for the oral arguments.

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In the Whitakers’ case, Langdon and the lawyers assisting him claim Kirby’s court “abused its discretion because the decision was arbitrary, unreasonable, and unconscionable.” They urged Bertelsman to reverse Kirby and grant the name change.

Three lawyers from the National Center for Lesbian Rights are listed along with Langdon as representing the Whitakers and the two other families, while one lawyer is representing the Trevor Project.

“The court will hold oral arguments on these motions and other issues as may be appropriate,” Bertelsman wrote in an Oct. 2 order.

Bertelsman is also expected to hear arguments on whether he should abstain from intervening in the state case or delay it while a state appeal is pending.

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“Plaintiff shall tender to the court and opposing parties a proposed draft of the exact language of the declaratory judgment it seeks within ten (10) days of the entry of this order,” the judge added.

The oral arguments are to begin at 1 p.m. in federal court in Cincinnati.

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