Metro Weekly

Judge: Indiana must list lesbian mothers on child’s birth certificate

Hoosier State becomes the latest to recognize a non-biological same-sex parent's parental rights

Photo: WiLPrZ, via Wikimedia.
Photo: WiLPrZ, via Wikimedia.

A federal judge has ruled that the state of Indiana must list both spouses in lesbian marriages as parents on their children’s birth certificates. U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt, of the Southern District of Indiana, found in favor of eight lesbian couples who sued Indiana Health Commissioner Dr. Jerome Adams, over the state’s policy, as carried out by county health departments, of listing only the birth mother on a child’s birth certificates, reports The Associated Press.

Lawyers representing the eight couples argued that the policy forces the lesbian who did not give birth to the child to go through a costly and time-intensive adoption process just to be legally recognized as the child’s parent. Pratt, in her ruling, said this violated the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the U.S. Constitution and deemed the policy “discriminatory.”

“There is no conceivable important governmental interest that would justify the different treatment of female spouses of artificially-inseminated birth mothers from the male spouses of artificially-inseminated birth mothers,” she wrote.

Lawyers for the state argued that Indiana’s law was fair by simply allowing parental rights to be obtained and recognized, whether through a biological relationship or an adoption. The state also argued that changing state law to create marriage to a child’s mother — regardless of orientation — as a third way to obtain parental rights should only be done if such a move was approved by the Indiana Legislature, rather than imposed via court ruling.

The Indiana Attorney General’s Office is expected to respond to the ruling against the state by either appealing Pratt’s decision or seeking to have the ruling “stayed,” or put on hold, a spokesman told the AP. 

Karen Celestino-Horseman, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, said that Pratt’s ruling “obviously buttresses our contention that this shouldn’t have been something that was litigated in the first place.” Celestino-Horseman also said that, under the policy adopted by Indiana, children with same-sex parents were viewed as “nothing more than a stepchild” of the non-biological parent. 

“Now these children will be able to claim the benefit of having both parents,” she said.

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