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Same-sex couples ask for summary judgment in birth certificate complaint

December 7, 2015

Eight lesbian couples who sued the state for not putting both parents' names on their children’s birth certificates have filed a motion for summary judgment, asking the federal court to prohibit the state from denying the presumption of parenthood to female spouses of women who are artificially inseminated.

The motion in Ashlee and Ruby Henderson, a married couple and L.W.C.H., by his parent and next friend Ruby Henderson, et al. v. Dr. Jerome M. Adams, in his official capacity as Indiana State Health Commissioner, et al., 1:15-cv-220, was filed Dec. 4 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division.

The married couples, who filed their original complaint in February, charge they are being discriminated against because they are in a same-sex relationship.

They note when a woman is artificially inseminated by a man other than her husband, the state allows the couple to engage in a legal fiction that presumes the woman’s husband to be the child’s father. However, the state does not apply the same presumption when the spouse is the same sex as the birth mother.

“Just like any man married to a woman artificially inseminated by another, (the women plaintiffs) decided with their spouses to conceive a child and are each loving and deeply committed parents,” the motion states. “They act as parents in every sense of the word and as the spouse of the birth mother, just like any man in the same circumstances, the law should not deny them their fundamental right to make decisions that involve the welfare and raising of their children.”

Indiana only grants parenthood to those female spouses who undergo the “expensive, cumbersome, emotionally draining, and time-consuming” process of adopting their children, according to the motion.

The plaintiffs argue the state is violating the Equal Protection and/or Due Process clauses of the 14th Amendment.

The motion asks the court to permanently enjoin the state from refusing to grant a presumption of parenthood to same-sex spouses of the birth mothers. The plaintiffs assert Indiana Code 31-14-7-1(1) is causing them harm and the state’s discrimination against the same-sex couples does not promote, protect or preserve families.

“The statute’s exclusion of same-sex spouses of birth mothers does not legally bind the second parent to the newborn and denies the second parent the joys, obligations and rights of parenthood,” the motion states. “At the same time, children of same-sex families are stigmatized, made to feel their family is of lesser value then families headed by a man and a woman, and are denied the security and benefits of having two people legally recognized as their parents.”

Attorneys representing the plaintiffs are Karen Celestino-Horseman of Austin & Jones P.C.; William Groth of Fillenwarth Dennerline Groth & Towe LLP; Raymond Faust of House Reynolds & Faust LLP; and Richard Mann of Richard A. Mann P.C.

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