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Iowa Still Denying Accurate Birth Certificates to Same Sex Parents

Despite a previous ruling from the Iowa Supreme Court in the case Gartner v. Newton, the Iowa Department of Public Health is still refusing to immediately issue accurate birth certificates for all children born to married lesbian parents. The Gartner case was decided unanimously in May of this year by the Iowa Supreme Court as part of a Lambda Legal lawsuit challenging the Iowa Department of Public Health’s refusal to issue an accurate birth certificate to MacKenzie, daughter of married same-sex couple Heather and Melissa Gartner. Iowa’s highest court ruled in favor of the Gartners, stating that the Iowa Department of Public Health would have to change its practice of refusing to issue accurate birth certificates listing both mothers.

Instead, same-sex married couples are being told by the Iowa Department of Public Health that they must follow an affidavit process and obtain certified copies of their marriage license before accurate birth certificates can be issued. These requirements do not apply to non-gay Iowa families.

The following is a statement from One Iowa Executive Director Donna Red Wing:

“It is unacceptable that the Iowa Department of Public Health is still dragging its heels on this very important issue of granting accurate birth certificates to children born to married lesbian mothers. The Attorney General’s office knew at the time of the Gartner decision that a process needed to be in place, and they have failed. These couples are forced to jump through bureaucratic hoops and spend time and money to attain what is rightfully and legally theirs. Nobody takes a certified copy of their marriage license to the hospital with them when they are about to give birth. The Iowa Department of Public Health is playing procedural games with the lives of the children of these married couples and that is simply outrageous and unfair.

“No other state with marriage equality has treated same-sex married couples in this manner. Equality in Iowa should mean something. It is time, once and for all, for the Iowa Department of Public Health to end its shameful practice of denying children their legal bond to both parents.”

Couples who encounter problems obtaining an accurate birth certificate are encouraged to call Lambda Legal’s help desk in Chicago at 312.663.4413.

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