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Marriage Equality

Iowa: Advocates Prepare for Lesbian Parental Lawsuit

Iowa: Advocates Prepare for Lesbian Parental Lawsuit


Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union are stepping in to support a lesbian couple who is fighting Iowa courts over their right to adopt children together.

A Polk County judge ordered the state department of public health to issue a birth certificate naming Melissa and Heather Gartner as parents of their 2-year-old daughter, Mackenzie, in January. In her 12-page ruling, however, Judge Eliza Ovrom stopped short of saying that same-sex couples have the constitutional right to be automatically named the parents on a newborn's birth certificate.

Iowa law currently states that if a mother is married, her husband must be recorded as the father on the birth certificate, even if it was physically impossible for him to have been the biological father, according to the ACLU. Therefore, state lawyers argue, gender-specific parenting rights are "legally impossible" to transfer to same-sex spouses, The Des Moines Register reports. They've also argued that the state would readily grant a birth certificate recognizing same-sex parents as long as they went through the appropriate court procedures.

"[It] is discriminatory to require a lesbian non-biological parent to adopt her own child -- the child she jointly planned and saved for and achieved with her spouse using reproductive technology -- when a different-sex spouse using the same technology need not," Lambda Legal wrote in a 79-page brief.

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