Iowa Lesbian Couple Win Birth Certificate Battle


A married lesbian couple who went to court over the Iowa Department of Public Health’s refusal to put both their names on their child’s birth certificate were issued a new certificate this week as part of a court ruling in their favor.

Des Moines couple Melissa Gartner, 41, and Heather Gartner, 40, sued when the Iowa Department of Public Health refused to list both their names on the birth certificate of their daughter, now 2 years old.

Polk County District Judge Eliza Ovrom issued a narrow ruling in their favor, avoiding the question of whether there was a constitutional right for the same-sex couple to have their names on the birth certificate.

Instead, Judge Ovrom found the department failed to properly interpret the Supreme Court’s 2009 ruling that same-sex couples should have full access to state-sanctioned marriage rights.

From the Des Moines Register:

Ovrom’s 12-page ruling stops short of declaring a constitutional right for same-sex parents to be named automatically on newborns’ birth certificates. But it faults state officials for failing to correctly interpret older Iowa laws in light of the April 2009 Iowa Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriages.

State administrators are bound by the 2009 case to interpret laws in a way that gives “full access to the institution of marriage,” Ovrom wrote.

“Pursuant to Varnum v. Brien, where a married woman gives birth to a baby conceived through use of an anonymous sperm donor, the Department of Public Health should place her same-sex spouse’s name on the child’s birth certificate without requiring the spouse to go through an adoption proceeding,” Ovrom concluded. “Petitioners have proven the Department’s actions are in violation of law and based on an erroneous interpretation of the law….”

The Department of Health based its refusal to issue a birth certificate featuring both mother’s names on the fact that its interpretation of state law read the rules to be gender specific, and that there was no scope for the non-biological mother to be listed as a spouse instead of a husband.

The Department said it will review the judge’s order before considering whether to appeal.


Related Reading:

Bachmann: Gays Already Have Marriage Equality (VIDEO)

Iowa GOP Won’t Push Gay Marriage Repeal in Next Session

Christian Baker: No Wedding Cake for Lesbians


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Robert German
Past Member 3 years ago

I have been really impressed by going through this awesome blog. 8 Colores Articles

Maggie R.
Maggie R.6 years ago

it dosen't matter if theres not two lines for mother and father. how they raise and care for the child is what matters, not sex, religion, or anything like that.

Martha Eberle
Martha Eberle6 years ago

Little by little the arc of justice bends towards justice.

Sylvia M.
Sylvia M6 years ago

Many donors would absolutely refuse to participate in these programs but for the fact that they will remain anonymous. Genetic information that reveals family health history is usually all that the mother (to be) wants. Some go further and want redhead genes, or tall genes, etc. But for the gift of life, that otherwise would not occur, a little privacy is not selfish, it is critical. The money they may receive is not worth the legal entanglement that would result otherwise.

Berny P.
berny p6 years ago

what about the sperm donor who ABSOLUTELY doesn't want their name on the birth certificate?

You have an awful cavalier attitude about this without considering anyone's feelings on it.

It sounds pretty selfish to me.

Dorotea B.
Dorotea Berdik6 years ago

Both parents' names sholud be in the birth certificate on the first place... :-/

Carol C.
Carol Cox6 years ago

we are lagging behind, as usual... technology changes daily and we are left behind in the dark ages... just as in wedding protocol - used to be parents of the bride and groom - now you have step parents as well as step siblings and half-siblings. same goes for birth certificates... you don't get pregnant and have a baby by your husband anymore... there is in-vitro and surrogates and same sex female partners who carry each others eggs to term and male same-sex who "adopt" a child they have donated sperm for...we need to sit down and think it over and play catch up before we are overwhelmed. it won't go away any time soon.. deal with it.

Jacquie J.
Jacquie J6 years ago

one giant step for mankind

Jacquie J.
Jacquie J6 years ago

great story

Mary L.
Mary L6 years ago

Another step forward to equality. I keep trying to remember the Chinese saying, "the journey of a thousand miles etc."