family ties

SCOTUS asked to rule on whether same-sex parents should be on child’s birth certificate

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The Attorney General of Indiana, Curtis Hill Jnr., has submitted a brief to the Supreme Court asking it to overturn a lower court’s decision to allow a pair of same-sex parents to be listed on their child’s birth certificate.

The case in question involves married parents Ashlee and Ruby Henderson from Lafayette.

Ruby conceived the couple’s child through artificial insemination. When their son was born, officials refused to put both women’s names down on the boy’s birth certificate. It said that the software used to produce the certificates would not allow for it, as one would have to be listed as ‘father’. Instead, they only put Ruby’s name down on the certificate.

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The woman sued Indiana’s health commissioner and various officials in Tippecanoe County in 2015 over the matter. They successfully argued that not listing both parents presented challenges concerning medical insurance cover and that it was unfair that Ruby’s wife, Ashlee, should have to spend $4,000-$5,000 to legally adopt their child to be recognized as his parent.

They won the case in 2016 but the state appealed the decision. In January of this year, a 7th circuit appeals court said that not listing both women could be discriminatory, again supporting the wives (and further plaintiffs who had joined the case) and agreeing with the verdict reached orginally by Indiana’s federal Southern District court.

Indiana Attorney General, Curtis Hill Jnr.
Indiana Attorney General, Curtis Hill Jnr. (Photo: YouTube)

In his brief to the Supreme Court (Box vs. Henderson), Hill, a Republican prosecutor who has served as the state’s Attorney General since 2017, says SCOTUS should not uphold the appeals court’s decision. He filed the brief in June, according to the Indianapolis Star, and SCOTUS is scheduled to conference on the matter on December 11.

Hill said, “A birth mother’s wife will never be the biological father of the child, meaning that, whenever a birth-mother’s wife gains presumptive ‘parentage’ status, a biological father’s rights and obligations to the child have necessarily been undermined without proper adjudication.”

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Hill argues that States must not “act contrary to biological facts,” saying the “husband of a birth mother is usually the biological father, but the wife of a birth mother is never the biological father.”

This is not the first time that the US Supreme Court has weighed in on this sort of case. In 2017, a similar case was presented from Arkansas. On that occasion, SCOTUS ruled in the couple’s favor. What happens this time remains to be seen, given the lineup of judges of the Supreme Court now features more conservatives.