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Iowa court orders both same-sex parents be included on birth certificate

An Iowa District Court [official website] on Wednesday ordered [judgment, PDF] that the Iowa Department of Public Health [official website] must include both names of married same-sex parents on children's birth certificates. Melissa and Heather Gartner sued the Iowa Department of Public Health after officials refused to include the name of their child's non-biological parent on the child's birth certificate unless the non-biological parent adopted the child. The Gartners are legally married in Iowa, a state that legalized gay marriage [JURIST report] in 2009. The court held that because same-sex marriage is legal in the state, the Department of Public Health erred in refusing to include the name of the non-biological parent on the child's birth certificate. The court refused to require the non-biological same-sex parent to adopt the child in order to be listed on the birth certificate, and it ordered the Department of Public Health to issue a new document including the names of both parents. The Department of Public Health has the option to appeal the decision.

In October the US Supreme Court [official website] denied certiorari [JURIST report] in Adar v. Smith [backgrounder], in which a same-sex couple asked Louisiana to include both of their names on the birth certificate of their adopted child. The issue presented was whether denying non-married couples from having both names appear on an adopted child's birth certificate is a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution. Gay rights group Lambda Legal [advocacy website] filed the petition for writ of certiorari [JURIST report] in July after the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] en banc against the parents in April, finding that "adoption is not a fundamental right," and that "Louisiana has a legitimate interest in encouraging a stable and nurturing environment for the education and socialization of its adopted children." The appeals court ruling in April overturned a prior decision [JURIST report] in February by a panel of three judges from the Fifth Circuit ordering that the revised birth certificate be issued.

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