Iowa Supreme Court Hears Lambda Legal Case Seeking Accurate Birth Certificate for Lesbian Mothers
(Des Moines, IA, December 11, 2012) - Today the Iowa Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Lambda Legal's lawsuit seeking to compel the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) to provide an accurate birth certificate to all children born to same-sex married parents in Iowa.
"We are confident that Mackenzie will be able to keep her court-ordered birth certificate with both mothers listed as parents, and that all other children born to married same-sex parents will be issued accurate two-parent birth certificates just as is true for children of married different-sex parents. All children born to married parents in Iowa deserve the same protection and acknowledgement by the state of their relationships to their parents regardless of whether a child has two mothers, or a mother and a father, said Camilla Taylor, Marriage Project Director for Lambda Legal. "Birth certificates document a child's legal parent-child relationships, not biological relationships. Just ask children who have been adopted. Or look at the birth certificates of kids who - as in Mackenzie Gartner's case - were born through anonymous donor insemination, but who were born to a married different-sex couple instead of a same-sex couple. They get birth certificates naming both spouses as parents, and their birth certificates say nothing about the child's biological connections."
Mackenzie Gartner was born in September 2009 to Heather and Melissa Gartner, a lesbian couple who legally married in Iowa before she was born. After receiving a birth certificate which listed Heather as the only parent, the couple requested a corrected birth certificate listing both spouses as Mackenzie's parents. Iowa's Department of Public Health denied the request on the ground that Melissa is not Mackenzie's genetic parent. However, Iowa law establishes that a child born to married parents is the legitimate child of both spouses regardless of genetic relationship, and requires the Department of Public Health to list both spouses as parents on the birth certificate accordingly. In May of 2010, Lambda Legal filed suit on behalf of Mackenzie Gartner. In January 2012, the Iowa District Court for Polk County ordered the IDPH to issue an accurate birth certificate to Mackenzie, which it did while also appealing that court's decision. .
Every other state that permits same-sex couples to marry, enter into civil unions, or enter comprehensive domestic partnerships, issues birth certificates to children of same-sex couples in a legal relationship on the same terms as to children of married different-sex couples.
"Our daughter needs the same respect and treatment that every other child born to married parents receives," said Heather Gartner. "She was born to a loving married couple. All we are trying to do is to make sure our daughter is treated fairly."
For more information about the case, see the case page at http://www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/cases/gartner-v-newton.html
Along with Camilla Taylor, Mackenzie Gartner is being represented by Kenneth Upton of Lambda Legal and Sharon K. Malheiro of Davis, Brown, Koehn, Shors & Roberts, P.C.