The Iowa Supreme Court on Friday ruled
that gay couples have a right to be listed on a child's birth
The case involves a married lesbian
couple denied the right for both to be listed on their daughter's
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.
Despite being married, Heather
Gartner's wife, Melissa, is not listed on their daughter's birth
“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.”
Justices ruled 6-0 in favor of the
plaintiffs, ordering that the Iowa Department of Public Health begin
listing both married parents on a newborn child's birth certificate.
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.
In rejecting that argument, the court
noted that the state currently keeps no records of biological
parentage in cases where heterosexual couples use anonymous sperm
“It is important for our laws to
recognize that married lesbian couples who have children enjoy the
same benefits and burdens as married opposite-sex couples who have
children,” states the opinion, written by Justice David Wiggins.
“By naming the nonbirthing spouse on the birth certificate of a
married lesbian couple's child, the child is ensured support from
that parent and the parent establishes fundamental legal rights at
the moment of birth. Therefore, the only explanation for not listing
the nonbirthing lesbian spouse on the birth certificate is stereotype