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Md. OK's Two Moms on Birth Certificates

Md. OK's Two Moms on Birth Certificates

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The state of Maryland will now allow a woman to be named as a parent on the birth certificate of a child born to her same-sex spouse without the court order previously required, Lambda Legal reports.

The Maryland Division of Health and Mental Hygiene sent a letter to state birth registrars last Thursday ordering them to make the change. The letter said the impetus for the change was an opinion issued by Atty. Gen. Douglas Gansler last year that the state would likely soon recognize same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions. The state legislature is also debating a bill that would allow gay couples to marry in Maryland.

The health division said that if a woman who gives birth to a child indicates she is married, birth registrars should enter information on her spouse, regardless of gender, into the state's Electronic Vital Records System in the space currently used for the father's information. Registrars can start following this procedure immediately but must do so by March 1, the letter noted.

Susan Sommer, Lambda's director of constitutional litigation, issued a statement calling the move an "important step for Maryland children," who "will start their lives with the added security of a birth certificate accurately describing their families." Lambda, which advocated for the change, recommended that for further protection, these families should also have the nonbiological parent formally adopt the child. Lambda is also backing the Maryland marriage equality bill; Sommer testified in support of it last week.

The letter said the birth certificate procedure will not change in the case of a surrogate giving birth to the child of a man married to another man. If she is unmarried and an affidavit of parentage is signed, information on the father who signed the affidavit is to be entered into the electronic system, and his same-sex spouse will need a court order to be listed on the birth certificate. If the surrogate is married, her spouse is to be listed as the father; if she refuses to provide her spouse's information, the space for the father's information can be filled in only by court order.

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