Federal court says birth certificates should list both mothers in same-sex marriages

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CHICAGO — The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals last week ruled in favor of women who sued to have both their names on their children’s birth certificate.

The case involves Indiana’s birth certificate law.

The Indiana Lawyer reported that the women filed a lawsuit in 2015 after they were prohibited from including both their names on their children’s birth certificates. The women said the state’s statutes defining children born in and out of wedlock were unconstitutional because they were treating heterosexual couples differently than same-sex couples.

“The district court’s order requiring Indiana to recognize the children of these plaintiffs as legitimate children, born in wedlock, and to identify both wives in each union as parents, is affirmed,” Judge Frank Easterbrook wrote for the panel.

“It’s a great day for the children and their parents,” Karen Celestino-Horseman, the plantiffs’ attorney, told the Lawyer. “Their families have been affirmed.”

The judicial panel highlighted the state’s argument that the birth certificate form that new mothers fill out should include the biological father’s name as the “father.” But mothers in opposite-sex marriages write down their husband’s name even when they have undergone in vitro fertilization using donated sperm or have conceived outside of the marriage.

“According to the state, women who give birth are asked to provide the name of the child’s ‘father’ – not of the ‘husband’ but of the ‘father.’ And one form (the ‘birth worksheet’) given to new mother indeed calls for this information, through without defining the terms,” Easterbrook wrote, according to the legal news website. “The state wants us to treat this form, rather than (Indiana Code section) 31-14-7-1(1), as the governing rule.”

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