Couples file reply brief in birth certificate dispute

The married female same-sex couples fighting Indiana’s birth certificate statute have filed their brief with the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Eight lesbian couples filed a lawsuit after the non-birth mothers were prevented from being listed as a parent on their children’s birth certificates. They argued the state was discriminating against them since it allows married opposite-sex couples to list the husband as the father when the conception occurred through artificial insemination.

Indiana appealed to the 7th Circuit after the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana ruled the state is violating the lesbian couples’ 14th Amendment rights to equal process and due process.

In its brief, the couples argue the state is violating the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges which legalized same-sex married. The decision specifically included birth certificates as one of the aspects of marital status that should be extended to same-sex couples.

“Just as every other post-Obergefell federal court decision, the district court ruled that the Constitution requires the State to accord equal respect and dignity to same- and opposite-sex marriages in all of the traditional aspects of marriage, one of which is the issuance of birth certificates accurately identifying both parents of children born into a marriage,” the plaintiffs asserted.

In its brief filed last month, the state contends the ruling from the district court creates a new third source of parental rights solely for female same-sex married couples.

“…Obergefell cannot possibly mean that biological parents no longer have fundamental rights to their own children, or that states are now required to confer non-biological parental rights on spouses of birth mothers,” the state argued. “… every child has a biological father and a biological mother. And before anyone else can properly claim parentage, that status of the biological father and the biological mother must be addressed with due process.”

The case is Ashley and Ruby Henderson, et al. v. Dr. Jerome M. Adams, 17-1141. Oral arguments have not be scheduled.

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