Iowa Supreme Court Ruling May Change the Way You Think About Vital Records

The new ruling is summarized in this article post on

Iowa Supreme Court: Married lesbians have constitutional right for both to be on baby’s birth certificate

Married same-sex couples have the same rights as married heterosexuals to have both parents listed on the birth certificates of their newborn children, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled this morning.

Justices ruled 6-0 to require that the Iowa Department of Public Health begin listing both married parents on a newborn child’s birth certificate, despite state concerns that biological-based parenting rights would be cast aside if a Des Moines lesbian was allowed to establish paternity of her child.

The opinion, authored by Justice David Wiggins, brushes aside state government arguments that Iowa’s interest in “the accuracy of birth certificates, the efficiency and effectiveness of government administration, and the determination of paternity” require that the state hue to biological definitions in recording a child’s parentage.

Iowa currently keeps no records of biological parentage in cases where heterosexual couples use anonymous sperm donors, the court reasons. And state records would not be more accurate by requiring, as Iowa health officials until now have insisted, that nonbirthing mothers go through an adoption process.

“It is important for our laws to recognize that married lesbian couples who have children enjoy the same benefits and burdens as married opposite-sex couples who have children,” the opinion says. “By naming the nonbirthing spouse on the birth certificate of a married lesbian couple’s child, the child is ensured support from that parent and the parent establishes fundamental legal rights at the moment of birth. Therefore, the only explanation for not listing the nonbirthing lesbian spouse on the birth certificate is stereotype or prejudice.

“The exclusion of the nonbirthing spouse on the birth certificate of a child born to a married lesbian couple is not substantially related to the objective of establishing parentage.”

Today’s ruling stems from a lawsuit brought by Melissa and Heather Gartner after the state refused in 2009 to list both of their names on the birth certificate of their daughter, Mackenzie. The baby had been carried by Heather and conceived via an anonymous sperm donor.

Click here to read the full article.

5 thoughts on “Iowa Supreme Court Ruling May Change the Way You Think About Vital Records

  1. This will potentially have a far greater implication than the Iowa Supreme Court realizes.

    Though I am based in Virginia, I am a forensic genealogist–someone who works with courts and attorneys to establish who are the legal owners of property, whether real or personal, often by inheritance–who handles cases all across the United States, usually testifying as an expert witness by means of written affidavits, but on occasion in person.

    As strict as the laws of some states are regarding inheritance, New York comes the most quickly to mind, I can see other states beginning to refuse to accept Iowa birth certificates as proof of identity when someone born in Iowa is a potential heir to an estate in other states, even those recognizing same sex marriages, because the “justice” of the same notwithstanding, it is simply not a biological possibility for 2 men or 2 women to “create” a child.

    The implications go even further. Such “laws” will also make it much more difficult to identify persons at risk of hereditary diseases until the symptoms of the disease begin to manifest themselves because the true “blood lines” are being “denied” simply for political correctness (shades of Brave New World), by which point the disease is more often than not, given the current state of medical technology, UNTREATABLE. When someone at risk can be identify before the disease begins to manifest itself, not only is there a greater chance the disease can be managed with treatment, but merely noting what characteristics said person might share with or differ from others also at risk or having the disease could help to establish a cause, if not cure.

  2. I was wondering whether some bigot would have a hissy-fit over this. Does Mr. Pollock also raise objections to children born through artificial insemination? Because those children will never know who their father is either and they might develop some UNTREATABLE disease.

    Or does he object because these are same sex couples?

  3. I think that Mr. Pollock brings up some valid points. The Iowa Supreme court made a bad decision for many reasons, not the least of which are the genealogically and health-related reasons above. Common sense is not bigotry, homer.

  4. We have far to many, to close related people having kids already without creating more, I don’t think there should be sperm banks or adoptions without knowing who the bio parenr are, and evan same sex, babies should keep somekind of record on who the parents are. Don’t you think we have enough disabled people and biorelated dseases, because of to close of relationship babies, if you had to live with a intermarriage disease, like my family has, you all would think about it more.

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