Iowa Supreme CourtThe Iowa Supreme Court ruled 6-0 yesterday morning that same-sex married couples have the same “right” as heterosexual married couples to have both spouses names on a child’s birth certificate.


The Des Moines Register reports:

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.”

First Iowa, we reap what we sow. We had the opportunity to boot Justice Wiggins, but the majority decided to keep him in. Secondly, this isn’t about a stereotype or prejudice – it is about biology and common sense. It is biologically impossible for two lesbians to procreate. Iowa’s law already had a remedy for this situation (a remedy for a situation that is unnatural and unhealthy, but it is a remedy nonetheless).

What same-sex couples want is sameness, not equality. In this case it is impossible. I have to wonder what the Court in it’s infinite *wisdom* will decide if and when (a lawsuit is coming no doubt) two gay men push for inclusion for their names to be on a birth certificate when their is a surrogate mother. I’ll admit that I don’t know what is expected for heterosexual couples, but I would hope the expectation is having the non-biological parent go through the adoption process – as should be the case as that would make sense.

But after the Iowa Supreme Court decided to throw out our definition of marriage, common sense has been thrown out the window and the Court’s new role is the creation of rights out of thin air and they can’t keep even little things like biology stand in their way.

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    1. On what basis? As noted, it’s a document assigning legal, not necessarily biological parentage. For example, intended parents can be listed on a birth certificate instead of a surrogate.

      1. That, too is idiocy. The biological lineage of individuals is an important role played by birth certificates. When “parent A” and “parent B” replace the actual biologically-related parents on such forms, it makes them a farce and utterly useless.

      2. Basically, the birth certificate is a document about legal status that *most* of the time also carries information about biological relatedness. But not always.

        The document can be referenced for cases involving inheritance, custody and child support. The names on that document can matter greatly so that’s neither farcical or useless. That’d why adoptive parents and those couples with children born from various types of surrogate arrangements can have their names placed on the document.

        As for biological relatedness, the issues you cite with birth certificates arose, in part, from adoption cases where the intention was to keep the identities of the biological parents private. Those records are kept, but not necessarily provided on the certificate. Adopted children can request or sue to have these names revealed but again, that issue appears to arise from the legal requirement for a public birth certificate in order process other activities like school enrollment & etc. that also keeps the names of the biological parents private.

        It’s how the law and use of these documents evolved. Given that current state, I don’t see how it makes any less sense to include the names of a same-sex couple as it does to cite the names of a couple that adopted or had a child from a surrogate arrangement. These are the parents who have stepped forward and claim responsibility for the child.

  1. I remember hearing once long ago of a couple who “separated” with one child at home and she ended up getting pregnant by another man and then they “reconciled”. The biological father of the second child had no legal rights because legally the husband was listed as the father on the birth certificate. Unless things have changed, which they may have, I don’t think biology has much to do with birth certificates.

    1. The husband would would need a court order that he is not the father of the child (Iowa Statutes 252A.3A). If he accepts paternity, i guess there is nothing the biological father could do. Again, birth certificates record legal parentage, not necessarily biological.

      1. Shane–

        What happens when children who are adopted are issued a new birth certificate with the adoptive parents’ names?

        According to the article, IDPH keeps no records on actual biological parentage in the case of artificial insemination. And many times a sperm donor wants to remain anonymous and not have any legal obligation to the child.

  2. The article notes in the third paragraph that the state does not make note if a child born to an opposite-sex married couple was conceived by donor sperm. Why should lesbian couples be treated differently? Birth certificates record legal parentage, not necessarily biological

  3. “We had the opportunity to boot Justice Wiggins, but the majority decided to keep him in.”

    Yes, that’s exactly right. You lost. You actually outspent the pro-Wiggins side, and the people voted against you. And now the judge you failed to oust has authored this opinion, which must gall you. And remember: he is safely ensconced in office until 2022. Just wanted to lay all that out for you.

    And one other thing. Two of the three justices recently appointed by Gov. Branstad, the ones who replaced the 3 justices ousted in 2010, joined in the ruling. They issued a short concurring opinion, noting that since the state accepted Varnum as law, the result reached by the majority was correct. Now had they had believed that Varnum was itself an act of judicial usurpation and/or a perversion of the constitution, as you believe, then they never would have issued that concurring opinion. They would have had an obligation as judges to decide the constitutional issues as they saw them and voted to overturn Varnum, even if the state agency itself did not challenge Varnum.

    But that isn’t what happened. These new judges joined Gov. Branstad’s agency and the other justices in accepting Varnum as the law of the state. So the point is: even your victory in 2010 was no victory. How does it feel to keep losing?

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