State of Iowa Continues to Deny Mothers of Stillborn Baby Accurate Death Certificate

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Media Advisory for Wednesday, March 28 at 11:00 am in Des Moines
March 27, 2012
Camilla Taylor

"Iowa is the only state that has refused to do the right thing."

(Des Moines, IA, March 27, 2012) — Today the Iowa Attorney General’s office filed court documents saying that the state will continue to refuse an accurate death certificate to Jenny and Jessica Buntemeyer, asserting that it was correct in erasing Jenny’s name. The Buntemeyers are a married Iowa couple seeking an accurate death certificate for their stillborn baby, Brayden. Lambda Legal and One Iowa will deliver over 8,000 petitions to the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) from people outraged at this injustice.

Sign our petition—Tell Iowa Health Dept.: Stop erasing same-sex parents.

After the loss of their son, Jenny and Jessica filled out the spaces on the death certificate form for both parents, and indicated that they were married. IDPH sent the couple a death certificate for Brayden with Jenny’s name erased and Lambda Legal filed suit on their behalf in February.

“An Iowa court has already rejected the State’s arguments. Vital records such as birth and death certificates document legal parentage and not biology ,” said Camilla Taylor, National Marriage Project Director for Lambda Legal. “Iowa is the only state that has refused to do the right thing. In all the other states that have significant relationship recognition laws for same-sex couples, presumed parentage for their children is part of the package.”

This is the second matter where Lambda Legal has had to go to court to force the Iowa Department of Public Health to issue accurate documents to a same-sex married a couple. In the first Lambda Legal case regarding a birth certificate for a child born to a married same-sex couple, a court ruled that the spousal presumption of parentage applies to children of same-sex spouses just as it does to children of different-sex spouses, and compelled the state to issue an accurate two-parent vital record immediately to this family.

Media Advisory

In response to the State’s court filing today, Lambda Legal and One Iowa will deliver over 8,000 signatures to the Iowa Department of Public Health expressing outrage at the treatment the Buntemeyer family received.

Who: Molly Tafoya, One Iowa

When: Wednesday, March 28 at 11:00 a.m.

Where: Iowa Department of Public Health, 321 E 12th St # 175


Jenny Buntemeyer and Jessica Aiken of Davenport met in 2008 and fell in love while serving in Iraq. They married in Iowa on October 8, 2010, and remain in the Army Reserves. After planning a family together, Jessica became pregnant via in vitro fertilization and an anonymous donor. On October 21, 2011, Jessica gave birth in Iowa to Brayden Bruce Buntemeyer, at 30 weeks’ gestation. He died in utero prior to labor after his umbilical cord became wound around his neck. On the fetal death certificate form, Jessica filled out the boxes for “mother” and Jenny filled out the boxes marked “father,” the only option on the form for a second parent. On January 12, 2012, IDPH issued them a death certificate on which someone had erased Jenny’s name and identifying information.

In another Lambda Legal case, Gartner v. Iowa Dept of Public Health, a Polk County trial court affirmed that the spousal presumption of “legitimacy” applies equally to children born to married same-sex couples, and ruled that Iowa’s birth certificate statute must be interpreted in a gender-neutral way. The court ordered IDPH to issue a birth certificate to the child in Gartner listing both same-sex spouses as parents. IDPH recently appealed that ruling.

Read the State of Iowa’s court documents.

Sign the petition. 

Read more information on Buntemeyer v. Iowa Department of Public Health.

Read the death certificate that originated from the funeral home.

Read the death certificate provided by the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Along with Camilla Taylor the Buntemeyers are represented by Kenneth Upton and Beth Littrell of Lambda Legal and Sharon K. Malheiro of Davis, Brown, Koehn, Shors & Roberts, P.C.


Contact Info


Erik Roldan 312-663-4413 ext. 359; Cell: 312-545-8140; Email: eroldan@lambdalegal.org

Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.