On June 30th, a federal Judge ruled that both parents in a same sex marriage will have their names listed on their child’s birth certificate.
Originally, only a traditional mother-father couple would both have certain legal rights of a parent. This law prevented many gay/lesbian parents from being recognized as legal parents for their offspring. Even if the couple was legally wed or if the child was biologically theirs, it was still a difficult process for a same sex parent to be recognized.
One case, in which a mother had to adopt a child that was biologically hers, was used to demonstrate the lack of rights that same sex couples endured. Jackie Phillips-Stackman had donated an embryo for her wife to carry. The embryo had been in development before Phillips-Stackman had met her wife or gotten married. When Phillips-Stackman’s daughter was born, only her wife was recognized as the mother. This was because Phillips-Stackman’s wife had carried and delivered her daughter, and thus would be the only one legally recognized as the parent in that situation. Should anything have happened to Phillips-Stackman’s wife or daughter, there would be very little that she could legally do.
“There’s just no space for two moms.” said Phillips-Stackman, “This is all new ground that the state is having to travel.”
Eight couples sued the state of Indiana for the lack of parental rights. “This is common-sense justice.” said Noell Allen, a plaintiff in the case, “It’s allowing us as a family to be recognized as any other married couple in the state of Indiana.”
Federal Judge Tanya Walton Pratt ruled on the case, finding that the current laws unjustly excluded same-sex couple from equal parental rights. “Given Indiana’s long-articulated interest in doing what is in the best interest of the child and given that the Indiana legislature has stated the purpose of Title 31 is to protect, promote, and preserve Indiana families. There is no conceivable important governmental interest that would justify the different treatment of female spouses of artificially-inseminated birth mothers.” stated Pratt.
What the New Law Means
The lack of recognition on a child’s birth certificate creates a few complications that the new ruling will now amend, including issues of:
- Registering children in school
- Inheritance benefits
- Listing a child as a dependant in taxes
- Having medical authority over the child
- Structuring social security
This may be a start in many cases of U.S. law “catching up” with the right for same-sex couples to be married.