Lawsuit Filed by Same-Sex Married Parents and Adoption STAR Seeks to End Discrimination on Birth Certificates

Adoption STAR LogoThe lawsuit, presented in Cincinnati, Ohio on February 10, 2014, seeks a federal court order requiring Ohio to place the names of both married same-sex parents on the birth certificates of their children.

Lead counsel, Al Gerhardstein stated,

“Last year the federal court ordered Ohio to end discrimination against married same-sex couples on death certificates. Today these moms and dads seek to end discrimination against married same-sex couples and their children on birth certificates. At both ends of our lifespans, a marriage is a marriage; Ohio must recognize same-sex marriages and the families founded on those marriages throughout life.”

Plaintiffs include three lesbian couples married in states where same-sex marriage is legal. One of the women in each marriage is pregnant through artificial insemination. They all used anonymous sperm donors. Their babies will all be born in Cincinnati hospitals in the next few months. If they were in marriages with opposite-sex husbands they would apply for their birth certificates while in the hospital and the Cincinnati registrar would place the names of both parents on the child’s birth certificate. Since these moms are in same-sex marriages Ohio will only place only one parent on their birth certificates because Ohio does not recognize same-sex marriages from other states. This lawsuit seeks to force Ohio to put both parents on the birth certificates.

Plaintiffs also include a gay couple legally married in New York and the adoption agency, Adoption STAR, which has helped them adopt a child born in Ohio. The male same-sex married couple has an order of adoption from a New York court stating that both of these married men are the parents of their adopted child. But Ohio will not treat them like an opposite-sex married couple. Instead Ohio will force these two dads to choose and allow only one of their names on the amended birth certificate of their adopted child. This lawsuit seeks to force Ohio to end that discrimination.

Why Does this Matter? Birth certificates are the primary identity document in our society. Birth certificates tell the child, “these adults are your parents,” and tell the community that these adults and children are a family. Medical care, access to schools, travel and release of information are all easily accomplished with birth certificates and are constantly burdened without accurate birth certificates. Forcing families to accept incorrect birth certificates imposes life-long harms and is a direct attack on family dignity.

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