A married lesbian couple filed a complaint in federal court charging Indiana is violating their constitutional rights by not listing both their names on their child’s birth certificate.
Tippecanoe County couple Ashlee and Ruby Henderson filed the complaint after the state failed to list both their names on the birth certificate of their child, L.W.C.H. They argue that under Indiana law, the birth mother’s husband will be listed as the father of the child even if he is not the biological parent. However, offspring of a married same-sex couple are stigmatized as bastard children.
In their complaint, the Hendersons charge, “Indiana’s law restricting the presumption of parenthood to men and bastardizing children born to women in same-sex marriages publicly stigmatizes persons in same-sex marriage and sends a hideous message to their children by implying that these children are somehow less deserving of the presumption of two parents and legitimacy.”
The complaint, Ashlee and Ruby Henderson, et al. v. Jerome M. Adams, et al., 1:15-CV-220, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division.
Attorneys representing the plaintiffs are Raymond Faust of House Reynolds & Faust LLP along with Karen Celestino-Horseman, of counsel at Austin & Jones P.C., William Groth of Fillenwarth Dennerline Groth & Towe and Richard Mann of Richard A. Mann P.C., who are among the lawyers who successfully challenged Indiana’s prohibition of same-sex marriage.
Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriage was challenged by five separate lawsuits in March 2014. The state prohibition was overturned by Chief Judge Richard Young in the Southern District in June and the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed in September.
The Hendersons assert that the state is violating the Equal Protection Clause and the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment by refusing to recognize that L.W.C.H. was born in wedlock and to grant the presumption of parenthood to Ashlee Henderson.
Ashlee and Rudy Henderson were lawfully married Nov. 11, 2014. They had been together for eight years and, after Rudy Henderson was artificially inseminated, got married so their child could be born to a wedded couple.
However, the Tippecanoe Department of Health informed Ashlee Henderson she would not be listed on the child’s birth certificate because she was not a biological parent.
At the Indiana University Health Arnett Hospital when their child was born, the couple scratched out the word “father” and wrote “Mother 2” on the Indiana Birth Worksheet. Hospital officials told the couple the software they were required to use by the state would not allow for Ashlee Henderson to be listed as a parent.
The plaintiffs are asking for a permanent injunction directing the state to recognize L.W.C.H. as a child born in wedlock and to presume Ashlee Henderson is the parent by identifying her as such on the birth certificate.
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller commented on the lawsuit through his spokesman, Bryan Corbin.
“The state’s lawyer will review the plaintiffs’ lawyers’ assertions and take appropriate action in court, consistent with protecting the state’s legal interests and the taxpayers. While courts exist to decide legal disputes, no one should disparage public officials who are attempting to follow the existing statutes while these matters work their way through the courts,” Corbin said.