Marriage Equality Wiki
Obergefell v. Wymyslo
Full name James Obergefell, et al. v. Theodore E. Wymyslo, et al.
Filed 2013-07-19
Plaintiffs James Obergefell and John Arthur; David Brian Michener; and Robert Grunn
Defendants John Kasich (removed); Mike DeWine, Attorney General of Ohio (removed); Theodore E. Wymyslo, M.D., in his official capacity as the Director of the Ohio Department of Health; and Camille Jones, M.D., in his official capacity as Registrar, City of Cincinnati Health Department Office of Vital Records
Court United States District Court for the Southern District of Utah, Western Division
Current status Exhibits due by October 11; motion to dismiss due from defendants by October 11

Obergefell v. Wymyslo is a 2013 federal court case challenging Ohio's marriage ban.

The case started as Obergefell v. Kasich, filed in the District Court for the Southern District of Ohio under case number 1:13-cv-501, requesting that the Registrar for Cincinnati register John Arthur's imminent death certificate showing his marital status as "married" and James Obergefell as his surviving spouse. Over time, other plaintiffs were added to the case, and Ohio Governor John Kasich and others were removed as defendants, leading to the name change.

The court issued a temporary restraining order (TRO), effective through December 31, 2013, to prevent the state of Ohio from enforcing its marriage ban on the plaintiff couple, and preventing the Cincinnati registrar from accepting a death certificate for John Arthur that doesn't list John as married and list James Obergefell as his surviving spouse.

On September 3, the plaintiffs added another party, David Michener, the widower of William Ives, who died unexpectedly on August 27. They sought a temporary restraining order to allow a death certificate for William to reflect his marriage and to list David as his surviving spouse. After a conference call with all parties, the court issued the TRO the same day.

On September 19, after meetings between the parties (but not the judge) brought about resolution on some issues but not all, the plaintiffs asked for permission to file a second amended complaint. They added another plaintiff, a funeral director named Robert Grunn who faces criminal charges if he files a death certificate listing a person who was married to someone of the same sex as "married", to avoid any potential mootness claims if John should die before the case is concluded, and to assert his own rights as well as the rights of his clients. They also replaced the Governor and Attorney General with the Director of the Department of Health in order to avoid delays related to sovereign immunity, and dropped claims related to income taxes due to recent changes in federal law and to avoid delays based on the state's developing response to those changes.

The same day, the state defendants filed their own motion to dismiss the Governor and the Attorney General from the case. The Attorney General's request to be dismissed was conditional upon a proper state defendant being added in his place. He mentioned the Director of the Department of Health, the same official added in the second amended complaint.

On September 25, a hearing was held to discuss the second amended complaint and the motion to dismiss. The court granted the request to allow the plaintiffs to file their second amended complaint, and terminated the motion to dismiss as moot given that the second amended complaint did not list the Governor or the Attorney General as defendants, and met the condition the Attorney General requested. The court set a deadline of October 11 for the state defendant to object to the addition of Funeral Director Grunn as a plaintiff, with the plaintiffs' response and the defendants' reply due by October 16 and 21, respectively.

Upcoming dates and deadlines[]

  • Both sides must complete their exhibits by October 11.
  • Defendants must submit a motion to dismiss Robert Grunn by October 11.
    • Plaintiffs must respond to the motion to dismiss by October 16.
    • Defendants must reply to the response by October 21.
  • Both sides must complete discovery and expert witnesses by October 25.
  • Both sides must file any motions by October 29.
  • A combined hearing is scheduled for December 18 at 10am.


Other events[]

  • 2013-07-11: James Obergefell and John Arthur marry in Maryland
  • 2013-07-??: City of Cincinnati declares July 11, 2013 as "John Arthur and James Obergefell Day"
  • 2013-07-22: David Michener and William Ives marry in Delaware
  • 2013-08-27: William Ives dies in Cincinnati.
  • 2013-10-22: John Arthur dies.