The Iowa Supreme Court is considering a
legal challenge brought by a married lesbian couple denied the right
for both to be listed on their child's birth certificate.
In a landmark 2009 decision, the
state's highest court unanimously struck down the state's law
limiting marriage to heterosexual couples.
However, the Iowa Department of Public
Health has refused to issue birth certificates listing married
spouses of the same gender as the legal parents of newborn children.
Heather and Melissa Gartner are one
such couple. Despite being married, only Heather Gartner, their
daughter's biological mother, is listed on the birth certificate.
“When you have somebody tell you that
your marriage is not equal to your counterparts, because of who
you're married to, you can't be a parent to this child – it's very
Gartner told CNN Radio. “I mean, honestly, when the first
birth certificate came, it felt like someone had smacked you.”
In presenting its case in December to
the Iowa Supreme Court, the Department of Public Health argued that
it is required by law to provide an accurate birth certificate that
records a child's biological parents.
“Every state that has addressed this
issue has allowed both parents to be put on the birth certificate,”
said Angela Onwuachi-Willig, professor of law at the University of
Iowa. “We have no reason to believe that there's any marriage
equality state that is doing anything like what the Iowa Department
of Public Health is doing.”
A lower court ruled in favor of the