Paul D. Castillo
Senior Counsel and Students' Rights Strategist
Paul D. Castillo is Counsel and Students’ Rights Strategist in the South Central Regional Office of Lambda Legal, the oldest and largest national legal organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV. His work at Lambda Legal includes marriage equality and same-sex relationship protections, employment fairness, and combating discrimination aimed at transgender individuals, people living with HIV, and LGBT students.
Castillo played a significant role in securing the freedom to marry nationwide for same sex couples and their families. As a member of the legal team in the landmark case Obergefell v. Hodges, Castillo represented four same-sex couples seeking respect for their out-of-state marriage and accurate birth certificates for their Ohio-born children. As co-counsel in Henry v. Hodges (one of the six consolidated marriage cases), Castillo contributed to victory for these families in the Southern District of Ohio before an aberrant ruling from the Sixth Circuit prompted review and reversal by the U.S. Supreme Court.
In perhaps the fastest marriage victory from filing to final judgment, Castillo also served as lead counsel in Baskin v. Bogan, representing five same-sex couples and their families seeking the freedom to marry in Indiana. After obtaining an emergency order directing the state to recognize the out-of-state marriage of Amy Sandler and Niki Quasney, who courageously battled ovarian cancer for over five years, the Baskin legal team secured victory after a federal district court judge struck down Indiana’s marriage ban as unconstitutional in June 2014. Shortly thereafter, in the only unanimous victory at the federal appellate level striking down state marriage bans for same-sex couples, the Seventh Circuit issued an unprecedented decision for the circuit declaring all laws singling out people on the basis of their sexual orientation are presumptively unconstitutional and warrant elevated scrutiny.
Castillo is a strong advocate for LGBT service members and veterans. Shortly following the decision by the Supreme Court in United States v. Windsor, he successfully represented a member of the Army National Guard and her wife, who were turned away from enrolling for federal benefits in Texas. His advocacy for equal treatment of military personnel and their families led to Texas Military Forces reversing its position to follow Department of Defense guidelines. Castillo currently represents the American Military Partner Association (AMPA) as co-counsel in AMPA v. McDonald, a federal lawsuit against the Secretary of Veteran Affairs asserting the constitutional rights of veterans and their same-sex spouses who reside in states that will not respect their marriage, thereby denying them critical and earned benefits following years of service to our country.
Castillo is co-counsel in Star v. Livingston, a case against the Texas Department of Criminal Justice arguing that state officials were deliberately indifferent to sexual assault and violence directed at a transgender female housed in male correctional facilities. In addition, Castillo has presented on an array of legal issues impacting the LGBT and HIV communities, including speaking at the 2015 Minority Corporate Counsel Association’s Pathways to Diversity Conference, 2014 Hispanic National Bar Association Annual Convention and 2014 Creating Change Conference.
Prior to joining Lambda Legal, Castillo enforced federal civil rights statutes for the United States Department of Education, Office or Civil Rights (OCR). Moreover, he gained significant experience as a private practice litigator in Ohio representing clients in federal and state courts dealing with a variety of employment, commercial, real estate and insurance matters. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin, and graduated cum laude from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. Castillo is a member of the state bars of Texas and Ohio.