Married lesbian couples challenge Indiana birth certificates
INDIANAPOLIS -- Two legally married lesbian couples are suing Indiana's health commissioner and local officials, accusing them of violating their constitutional rights by not listing the names of both spouses on their children's birth certificates.
Although the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in June, the lawsuit says Indiana's birth certificates still treat marriage as between a man and a woman without giving equal recognition to married same-sex couples.
The lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis contends that Indiana's laws overseeing birth certificates violate the Fourth Amendment's equal protection and due process guarantees.
The suit asks a judge to require that both same-sex parents be named on their children's birth certificates, which it says are vital documents often needed for parents to register a child in school, make medical decisions and arrange Social Security and inheritance benefits, among other things.
Among the plaintiffs are Jackie and Lisa Phillips-Stackman, who were married Oct. 5 and are the parents of an infant daughter, Lola, born Oct. 21 from an egg provided by Jackie and fertilized by a donor. Lisa carried the resulting embryo to term, and Lola's birth certificate only lists Lisa as her mother. In order for Jackie to legally be considered Lola's mom, she would have to adopt her - even though the infant is her biological child.
"The thought of having to adopt my own child just rubbed me wrong, especially with all the planning we had done. It's offensive," Jackie Phillips-Stackman told The Indianapolis Star (http://indy.st/1jLYQWs ).
Under Indiana's law, if a child's mother is married to a man, he is presumed to be the child's father, even in cases of artificial insemination. A mother can also provide other paternity information. But if a mother is married to a woman, the female spouse receives no legal status in relation to the child, the lawsuit states.
The new complaint states that Indiana's laws deny same-sex couple's children "the same rights accorded to children born to a married man and woman."
The suit is similar to one filed in February against Indiana and county health departments by several Indiana families. It is still pending.
The state Department of Health declined to comment on the new litigation, which also names Marion County officials who are involved in issuing birth certificates. But Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said in a statement that "there are many legal unknowns" following the legalization of same-sex marriage.
"It may take time for the lower courts to resolve any remaining issues surrounding the complex, interwoven system of laws involving birth records, divorce and parental rights, property and tax laws," he said.
Information from: The Indianapolis Star, http://www.indystar.com