Jennifer and Jessica Buntemeyer
Iowa Lesbian Couple Win Fight Over Child's Death Certificate

By Trudy Ring

Originally published on Advocate.com December 20 2012 11:04 PM ET

A married Iowa lesbian couple have won a fight with the state over inclusion of their names on their stillborn child’s death certificate.

A judge earlier this month ordered that both Jennifer and Jessica Buntemeyer of Davenport be listed on the certificate as the legal parents of their son, Brayden, who was stillborn in October 2011, TV station WQAD reports. They said both of their names were originally listed on the documentation filed with the state, but Jennifer’s name was removed (Jessica was the birth mother), so the couple sued. Officials with the Iowa Department of Public Health denied removing her name.

Judge Robert Hutchison wrote in his ruling that the department did not explain how listing only one parent on the certificate improved accuracy or efficiency, as officials had argued. The department also claimed that listing a mother’s wife confuses the issue of paternity.

In the ruling, Hutchinson responded, “Denying same-sex couples the benefits of marriage violates equal protection unless the state can justify its action under heightened scrutiny. As parents, a mother’s wife is identical to a mother’s husband in every common and ordinary sense except for biology.”

Iowa has legally recognized same-sex marriages since a state Supreme Court ruling in 2009.