ACLU asks State to Recognize Same-Sex Couples’ right to be on Birth Certificates of their Children

Monday, April 20, 2015

The American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin, the ACLU LGBT Project, along with attorneys from Mayer Brown filed a motion today in the case of Wolf v. Walker asking the U.S. District Court to clarify that both parents in a same-sex married couple must be listed on the birth certificates of children born while they are married.  The ACLU is filing the motion on behalf of Kami Young and Karina Willes, who had married in Minnesota before their daughter was born last year.

In June 2014, the U.S. District Court in Madison invalidated Wisconsin’s ban on recognition of marriages of same-sex couples, saying the State must “treat same-sex couples the same as different sex couples in the context of processing a marriage license or determining the rights, protections, obligations or benefits of marriage.”   

Kami Young, one of the plaintiffs in the Wolf v. Walker lawsuit, said, “Our daughter has two parents who love and adore her.  We are a team when it comes to the care of our child.  One of the main reasons we decided to be plaintiffs in this lawsuit was to secure legal recognition that my spouse Karina would be the parent of a child born while we were married.  A birth certificate with Karina’s name as one of our daughter’s parents would help provide such recognition. If the state were to truly treat our marriage as equal to the marriage of a different-sex couple, it would include Karina’s name as a parent on the birth certificate.”

Larry Dupuis, the ACLU of Wisconsin Legal Director, said, “Wisconsin law provides that a male spouse of a woman who gives birth to a child is presumed to be the child’s parent.  The same should be true for same-sex couples.”

The ACLU has been working for the rights of LGBT people since its first gay rights case, in 1936. The organization also filed the first ever freedom to marry lawsuit for same-sex couples in 1970, and represented Edie Windsor in her successful challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act in June 2013. Since that time, the ACLU has filed many federal marriage lawsuits on behalf of same-sex couples across the country, including a case that will be considered by the US Supreme Court this term.  That case involves recognition of marriages for purposes of vital records (like birth and death certificates).

The ACLU of Wisconsin is a non-profit, non-partisan, private organization whose 7,000 members support its efforts to defend the civil rights and liberties of all Wisconsin residents. For more on the ACLU of Wisconsin, visit our website, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @ACLUofWisconsin and @ACLUMadison. The plaintiffs are represented by lawyers from the ACLU of Wisconsin Foundation, the ACLU national LGBT & HIV project, and Mayer-Brown, a Chicago law firm.

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