Couples in Florida ask a federal court to order state officials to respect their families.
After being told in August that only the birth mother’s name could appear on the birth certificate of their twins, Cathy Pareto and Karla Arguello of Florida, filed a lawsuit in federal court asking for both parents to be listed on their children’s birth certificates.
Last Wednesday, Pareto and Arguello with the help of Equality Florida, requested that the court rule without going to trial. The state’s refusal to list both parents on the birth certificates is seen as a direct contradiction and violation of the Supreme Court’s June ruling.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights Senior Staff Attorney Amy Whelan said in a statement, “There is no justification for Florida’s refusal to treat same-sex spouses equally. The Supreme Court has already ruled that same-sex spouses and their children have a constitutional right to have their family relationships respected in every state.”
The birth certificates that do not list both parents are “discriminatory, stigmatizing, and humiliating” for the families and Equality Florida says that these families “deserve the same security and respect as the families of other married couples.”
Parents face multiple obstacles when not listed on the birth certificates. Equality Florida highlights that challenges come when parents need to “obtain healthcare for their children, sign them up for daycare, or enroll them in government programs and benefits.”
Hannah Willard, the policy and outreach coordinator for Equality Florida, said, “It is simply unacceptable for Florida to deny these families equal dignity and equal protection under the law. The US Supreme Court made it clear in June that all married couples must be treated equally. We urge Judge Hinkle to tell the Bureau of Vital Statistics to follow the law.”
Another couple involved in the lawsuit, Debbie and Kari, has been married since 2013 and together for 15 years. Last February when their second child was born, Debbie was told that she could not be listed on her son’s birth certificate.
Debbie said, “I’m just as much of a parent as Kari and anyone else with children.” It was humiliating to be denied the right to have my name added to our son’s birth certificate. All we want to do is love, protect, and provide the best opportunities for our children and to be treated equally under the law. Without being on our son’s birth certificate, in the event of an emergency or if something were ever to happen to my wife, I am not sure where that would leave us.”
The change to birth certificates will be similar to the change Florida made on marriage forms in October. Instead of listing “husband” and “wife”, these reformed marriage forms now list “spouse”.