Judge blocks Indiana’s attempt to limit birth certificate ruling

Indiana’s motion to alter the judgment allowing both females in a same-sex marriage to be listed on their child’s birth certificate was met with a sharp caution from the bench about re-litigating or attempting to limit the court’s order.

Judge Tanya Walton Pratt of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, issued a ruling Dec. 30 granting in part and denying in part the state’s motion to alter or amend judgment in Ashlee Henderson and Ruby Henderson, et al. v Dr. Jerome Adams, et al., 1:15-cv-00220.
The Hendersons and seven other female, same-sex married couples and their children had filed a complaint against the state because the birth certificates only listed the birth mother as a parent.

Finding that Indiana was discriminating against these women and violating the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses, the court entered a permanent injunction preventing the state from withholding the presumption of parenthood to female, same-sex spouses of birth mothers.

The state responded to the June 2016 ruling with a motion asking the court to modify and clarify the declaratory judgment and permanent injunction.

In particular, it requested the court remove its order barring the state from enforcing the “born in wedlock” and “born out of wedlock” statutes. Indiana argued the plaintiffs lack standing because the law only applies to adoption proceedings.  

However, the court provided a reminder that the state’s Fed. R. Civ. P. Rule 59(e) motion is not an opportunity to re-litigate motions.

Pratt wrote, “Because the State Defendant has failed to point out a manifest error of law or fact and seems to simply relitigate its argument from its summary judgment reply brief, the Court DENIES the Motion to Amend Judgment regarding the request to remove any declaration or injunction directed at Indiana Code 31-9-2-15 and 31-9-2-16.”

Again, the court fired back when the state asked for clarification of whether the permanent injunction applied only to wives of birth mothers who conceived through artificial insemination by an anonymous donor.

The court noted that nowhere in its order were “anonymous donors” discussed or considered.

“The Order means what it says and says what it means,” Pratt wrote. “It applies to female, same-sex spouses of birth mothers and children born to a birth mother who is married to a same-sex spouse. It does not apply additional limitations as the State Defendant questions.”

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