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Victory! North Carolina to Issue Accurate Birth Certificates for All Children Born to Married Same-Sex Couples

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November 16, 2016
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Melissa and Meredith Weiss
Melissa and Meredith Weiss

In a victory for all North Carolina same-sex couples with children born after they got married, the State has agreed to change its policies to enable those couples to get accurate birth certificates listing both parents.

That’s the result of a settlement Lambda Legal reached with the state of North Carolina on behalf of Melissa and Meredith Weiss, a married lesbian couple denied accurate birth certificates listing both mothers as parents of their two sons.

The State has agreed to amend the Weisses’ sons’ birth certificates to place both parents’ names on them.

"We are both thrilled and relieved,” said Meredith and Melissa Weiss. “We just want our children to have the same respect, protections and treatment that every other child born to married parents receives. Today, our family and other families like ours can move forward.”  

“We just want our children to have the same respect, protections and treatment that every other child born to married parents receives."
—  Lambda Legal clients Melissa and Meredith Weiss

“This is a tremendous victory for the Weiss family—and for all North Carolina children born to same-sex couples before the state’s discriminatory marriage ban was struck down, who will now enjoy the same protections as everyone else,” said Beth Littrell, Senior Attorney for Lambda Legal. “This should have happened a long time ago. Every state should ensure that all families have access to the same rights and protections. Making sure all children born to married same-sex couples have accurate birth certificates is a critical place to start.”

The Weisses married in Ontario in 2003 and had their sons in 2006 and 2008. Because North Carolina refused to recognize their marriage, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) refused to issue a birth certificate listing both parents’ names. The State refused to allow both women’s names to be listed as parents on their children’s birth certificates even after the Weisses secured court orders recognizing them as the parents of their sons.

On October 14, 2014, four days after a federal court ushered marriage equality in North Carolina, Melissa and Meredith requested new birth certificates listing both women as the children’s parents, providing DHHS with court orders and proof of their 2003 marriage. Unlike different-sex couples who are provided a new certificate with proof that the child was born after their marriage, the Weisses request went unanswered for more than a year. Lambda Legal filed this lawsuit on December 17, 2015.  Finally, their children’s birth certificates now accurately list Melissa and Meredith Weiss both as parents to their two sons. 

“We hope that the state’s decision to bring an end to this lawsuit by agreeing to provide equal treatment for same-sex couples and their children is a harbinger of a new direction for resolving, and avoiding, anti-LGBT discrimination.” Littrell said. “We should not have had to file a federal lawsuit to get the Weiss family accurate birth certificates, and we should not have to be in court today suing so that transgender students, employees, and visitors can use the appropriate restrooms. North Carolina should do the right thing and repeal the anti-LGBT law H.B. 2.”

As part of the Settlement Agreement, NC agreed to create and disseminate a directive to all Registers of Deeds and Vital Records staff “to ensure that birth certificates of children conceived or born to legally married same-sex spouses are treated identically to those of legally married heterosexual spouses.