Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Married Lesbian Moms Suing Iowa Over Infant Death Certificate Snub

(Originally written on 02/08/12): This is pretty sad. Lambda Legal filed suit yesterday in Polk County on behalf of a married Davenport couple, Jenny and Jessica Buntemeyer. This past September, the couple's pregnancy was shattered when Jessica miscarried their baby. Baby Brayden was born stillborn. They submitted a death certificate to the Iowa Department of Public Health, which issues birth and death certificates here in Iowa, and this was the response they received:
The couple’s grief was compounded by the state of Iowa, which essentially wrote Jennifer out of having any relationship to Brayden. The certificate of fetal death, which arrived late last month from the Iowa Department of Public Health, listed only Jessica as the parent, whiting out Jennifer’s name from the form the couple filled out and the funeral director signed. Jennifer left messages over four days for the one person at the IDPH she was told could explain the decision, but never even got a call back.

“It was like they were trying to erase all the commitment and love and work we had both put into planning a family,” Jennifer said. “They disrespected our marriage and poured salt on the wound of something that was already so horrible.”
For the record, Jennifer is Baby Brayden's biological mother and Jessica was carrying him in her womb. Iowa law assumes that both married parents are a child's legal parents -- even in the cases where the children are not biologically related to both children, such as with artificial insemination. However, the IDPH has fought attempts to recognize both married same-sex parents unless there has been a second-parent adoption. They recently lost a court challenge by Heather and Melissa Gartner after Melissa was omitted from their daughter's birth certificate. The IDPH just recently announced their intention to appeal that court decision.

Other marriage equality states recognize both married same-sex parents on their children's birth and death certificates and Iowa should do the same. All marriages need to be treated equally. To treat certain families different is wrong and cruel. As cruel is (literally) whiting out one parent off a child's death certificate. Iowa is better than this.

Updated on 12/17/12: The courts ruled in the Buntemeyers' favor on this date. You can read more about it here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is just horrible.