Goldstein Perdue v. Mississippi State Board of Health
(ATLANTA, October 25, 2001) — Mississippi is refusing to issue a birth certificate to a 4-year-old boy, punishing him solely because he has been adopted by a lesbian couple. The refusal means that the child has no legal document to prove his name, the names of his parents, and his date and place of birth.
Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund filed a lawsuit against the state on Thursday demanding Mississippi provide a birth certificate to the child, as required by law. The state has refused repeated requests for the document since the child was adopted at infancy.
“The state of Mississippi is unfairly punishing this small boy by denying him his birth certificate, which is a basic necessity for everyday life. The state is harming this child simply because he was adopted by loving parents who happen to be gay,” said Lambda Deputy Legal Director Michael Adams.
Adams added, “Mississippi needs to issue this birth certificate and let this boy live his life.”
Lambda argues that Mississippi is ignoring its own law that requires it to honor valid, out-of-state adoptions and provide an amended birth certificate when the adoption is complete. Singling this child out for different treatment not only creates an unlawful exception to state law and regulations, but also violates the guarantees of equal protection of the law under the Mississippi Constitution.
Cheri Goldstein and Holly Perdue took their son into their Vermont home when he was discharged from a Mississippi hospital, eight days after his birth. In April 2000 the adoption was finalized in Vermont and a request was made to have Mississippi amend the child’s birth certificate to include his adoptive parents’ names and his new name.
Goldstein and Perdue live with their son and six other adoptive children. They also care for two adults with severe mental retardation. Perdue has been a foster parent for 18 years and has taken care of many children with special needs. The couple have been sought out by Vermont officials when special-needs children have needed adoptive homes.
“This family is extraordinarily loving. The entire community benefits from the nurturing home they provide. Mississippi should not make life difficult for a child just because some people dislike his parents’ sexual orientation,” said Hector Vargas, Regional Director for Lambda’s Southern Regional Office.
Jackson attorney J. Cliff Johnson is Lambda’s cooperating attorney on the case.
Lambda is the oldest and largest legal organization dedicated to the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, and people with HIV and AIDS. In addition to its New York headquarters, Lambda has regional offices in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Atlanta and will open an office in Dallas in 2002.
Hector Vargas 404-897-1880 x 24
Peg Byron 212-809-8585 x 230, 888-987-1984 (pager)