Thursday, January 5, 2012

Iowa Birth Certificates Needs to Reflect Both Married Parents -- Even if the Parents are Two Moms

Yesterday, a Polk County district judge ruled that the Iowa Department of Public Health cannot refuse to place the names of both married moms on the birth certificates of their kids.  Previously, the non-biological mother would have to go through the process of second-parent adoption to gain legal rights over her child and to be placed on the birth certificate:
Heather Lynn Martin Gartner and Melissa McCoy Gartner, both of Des Moines sued the Iowa Department of Public Health in 2010... Camilla Taylor, the Gartners' attorney, had argued that the state lists married men on birth certificates, even when it's impossible for them to be the biological father.

State attorney Heather Adams, during the court case, argued that the health department has extended rights to same-sex married couples since an Iowa Supreme Court ruling allowing same-sex marriages. She had said the department has no concerns about two women raising a child, citing "solid scientific evidence" that children of gay couples are as healthy as those raised by a man and a women.

However, the state law's wording in regards to parentage is gender-specific, and not open to interpretation, she argued.

Iowa code states if a woman is married, the husband is the father, absent a court order that says otherwise. "If I had to summarize the department's case in one sentence, it would be this: It is a biological impossibility for a woman to ever legally establish paternity of a child," Adams had argued.
I know a lot of lesbian moms who spent a lot of money that could have been spent more wisely on things like their newly-born baby than on attorney fees for their second-parent adoption. Iowa marriage law says that both legally married parents are the legal parents of their children, even when one is not biologically connected to the child (such as in the case of artificial insemination or adultery) and that the birth certificates need to reflect this.  I'm sure that people will not like this, but it's the law.  Fortunately, the courts ruled in favor of treating all married parents equally in this situation. And that's a good thing.


Anonymous said...

What does that mean for future delivery's by two moms in Iowa? Is there going to be a change?

Jon said...

That question is up in the air. I know that there has been a second more-recent case involving this issue. That time it involved a death certificate for a still-born child.

IIRC, the IDPH is currently appealing this court decision, if only for more clarification.

If it were me, I'd spend the extra time and money to do a second-parent adoption, if only to know for certain that this issue is settled. But that's me and our situation is different than the situation in this story..