Gay Couples Challege Birth Certificate Rules
INDIANAPOLIS (CN) - Two lesbian couples claim in court the Indiana enforces discriminatory policies that prevent all parents from being listed on their children's birth certificates.
Jackie and Lisa Phillips-Stackman claim that state and county officials have refused to list Jackie on their child's birth certificate.
The child, identified as L.J. P-S in court filings, was born using in-vitro fertilization, by pairing Jackie's egg with a sperm donor, and implanting the child into Lisa.
Despite, L.J. P-S being biologically Jackie's, the hospital only placed Lisa's name on the birth certificate, and Marion County officials, deemed the child to be born "out-of-wedlock."
Such a designation, could create problems should anything happen to Lisa, because Jackie would be left with no legal claim to the child, which would include making medical decision for L.J. P-S, who has suffered from a dangerous brain condition since birth.
The lawsuit claims that the government officials' refusal to recognize non-birth mothers as parents, violates the equal-protection clause of the United States Constitution.
"By refusing to grant the presumption of parenthood to the Same-Sex Non-Birth Parents, Defendants are depriving the Children of the numerous legal protections afforded by having a legally recognized second parent," the complaint says.
Many of the plaintiffs' concerns grow out of Indiana's seemingly antiquated birth certificate procedures. On the state's birth certificate worksheet, it asks many questions about the parentage of the child, but specifically refers only to a father as the other parent.
In addition to the form, under state law a father is presumed to be granted parenthood if he is married to the mother, even if he is not biologically related to the child, such as in the case of a sperm donor.
The lawsuit claims that the same presumptions are not afforded for two married woman.
The other plaintiff couple, Noell and Crystal Allen, were married in New York in 2013, and sought to add to their family, which already included a 5-year-old daughter, by having another child.
However, tragedy struck the married-couple when their expected twins were born prematurely, and passed away later the same day.
According to the complaint, a day after the twins' passing, the hospital informed the Allen's that Noelle would not be placed on the birth certificate without a court order, because she was not the birth mother.
The lawsuit seeks to force the government officials to recognize the plaintiff's children as having been born to two legally married parents and the parental powers that confers, in addition to listing all plaintiffs on their children's respective birth certificates.
Similar lawsuits have been filed in other states this year, including in Utah and Arkansas, where in each instance the court ruled in favor of placing both mothers on the birth certificate.
In the Utah case, the court's ruling ensured that government agencies were prevented from enforcing laws, "in a way that differentiates between male spouses of women who give birth through assisted reproduction with donor sperm and similarly situated female spouses of women who give birth through assisted reproduction with donor sperm," the court's order said.