Lesbian Couple Fights Exclusion, Mourns Son's Death

By Michelle Garcia

Originally published on Advocate.com February 10 2012 1:17 PM ET

While mourning the loss of their son, a married lesbian couple is also fighting to be equally recognized by the state of Iowa on their child's death certificate.

Jenny and Jessica Buntemeyer met and fell in love while serving for the Army in Iraq in 2008. They wed in 2010, and decided to have a baby with the help of an anonymous donor. Thirty weeks into her pregnancy, Jessica gave birth to Brayden Bruce Buntemeyer, who died in utero on October 21, 2011. She filled out the fetal death certificate as his mother, while Jenny filled out the section marked, "father." However, when the couple received the official document in January, Jenny's name was omitted Now the couple is suing the state department of public health to have both of their names on the document.

Camilla Taylor, National Marriage Project Director for Lambda Legal, called the agency's move an "egregious display of insensitivity." She added, "A different-sex married couple grieving a similar loss would receive a two-parent death certificate with no questions asked. Death certificates and other vital records like birth certificates document legal parentage, and not biology. To white out a mother’s name from her stillborn baby’s death certificate is cruel to a family that is already devastated."

Taylor is representing the couple along with Kenneth Upton and Beth Littrell of Lambda Legal and Sharon K. Malheiro of Davis, Brown, Koehn, Shors & Roberts, P.C.