Judge orders that lesbian mothers be listed on birth certificate

BY Advocate.com Editors

March 20 2003 12:00 AM ET

A Mississippi judge on Wednesday ordered the state to issue a birth certificate for a 5-year-old boy who was born in Mississippi and adopted by a lesbian couple from another state. Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund filed a lawsuit against the state in 2001 for refusing to issue a birth certificate listing the child's two parents, leaving him without any legal documentation of his name, the names of his parents, or the date and place of his birth. "This is a very significant victory," said Greg Nevins, the staff attorney in Lambda Legal's Atlanta-based Southern regional office who handled the case. "This child was punished because his parents are gay. A birth certificate is a basic and important document for every child, and today's ruling means this young boy should finally have his."

Cheri Goldstein and Holly Perdue took their son into their Vermont home when he was discharged from a Mississippi hospital, eight days after he was born. In April 2000 the adoption was finalized in Vermont, and a request was made to have Mississippi amend the child's birth certificate to include his adoptive parents' names and his new name. The Mississippi board of health repeatedly denied requests to reissue the certificate because the child's adoptive parents are lesbians. In a lawsuit filed in state court, Lambda argued that the state was in violation of its own law requiring officials to honor valid out-of-state adoptions and provide amended birth certificates. Lambda also argued that the state's actions violated the Mississippi constitution's guarantee of equal protection under the law.

Wednesday's ruling comes just a week after a New Jersey court ordered that state to list both lesbian mothers on the birth certificate of a child they intend to raise together. "All across the country--from the Northeast to the deep South--courts are increasingly recognizing that children with gay parents are entitled to the same protections as every other child," Nevins said. "Today's ruling is an important milestone in this trend."

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