Supreme Court urged to ban gay couples from putting both names on birth certificates by Indiana AG

Chris Riotta
·2-min read
Supreme Court Telephone Arguments (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
Supreme Court Telephone Arguments (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

The Supreme Court may review a lower court’s decision granting gay couples in Indiana permission to feature both names on their children’s birth certificates if Curtis Hill, the state’s Republican attorney general, gets his way.

In a petition submitted to the nation’s highest court, the attorney general called for a reversal of Indiana’s federal southern district court ruling, which was affirmed by the US 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in January.

The lower court’s ruling was in violation of common sense, Mr Hill suggested in his petition, writing: “A birth mother’s wife will never be the biological father of the child, meaning that, whenever a birth-mother’s wife gains presumptive ‘parentage’ status, a biological father’s rights and obligations to the child have necessarily been undermined without proper adjudication.”

The court found that Indiana’s laws unconstitutionally limited which parents of children could be listed on birth certificates — a discrepancy that can open the door to significant issues accessing everything from health care and housing to education and other critical services.

Still, the attorney general urged the Supreme Court to rescind the rights of gay couples like Ashlee and Ruby Henderson, residents of his state who challenged the birth records law in a 2015 federal lawsuit.

An attorney for the Henderson family said they were “hopeful the court will follow the precedent” and added that the Supreme Court may discuss the case during a conference on 11 December.

The lower court’s panel of judges previously granted same-sex couples permission to list both names on their children’s birth certificates, writing in their decision: “There’s no similar presumption with respect to an all-female married couple — or for that matter an all-male married couple.”

Same-sex couples can avoid discrimination and gaps in accessing critical resources for their children by the state allowing them to include both names on the birth certificates, the judges ruled.

The Supreme Court has previously struck down state laws that effectively treat same-sex couples differently surrounding birth record laws, including a 2017 case that came just two years after the passage of marriage equality. It remains unclear how the new court balance could potentially shift its stance on the issue, however, with the confirmation of the latest Justice Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trump’s third pick to the court.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press

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