Indiana under investigation over discrimination against same-sex parents
The state of Indiana is under investigation over discrimination after a judge said that a married female couple could not both be recognised as parents on their children’s birth certificate.
Judge Diane S. Sykes ruled that “distinctions” should be made between biological and parental rights on birth certificates because “you can’t overcome biology”.
“If the state defines parenthood by virtue of biology, no argument under the Equal Protection Clause or the substantive due process clause can overcome that,” Sykes said.
The ruling came after eight same-sex couples brought a lawsuit against the state for only allowing the names of the biological parents on the birth certificate in 2016.
The couples had argued in their legal action that they were forced to undergo lengthy and costly adoption processes in order to be recognised as the legal parent of their own child.
US District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt ruled in favour of eight lesbian couples in the initial case, saying it was intended to end the “discriminatory” practice of previously only naming the birth mother on the certificates.
Pratt’s judgement from last year read: “There is no conceivable important governmental interest that would justify the different treatment of female spouses of artificially-inseminated birth mothers from the male spouses of artificially-inseminated birth mothers.”
However, the state has since appealed the initial ruling – an appeal which is now being investigated.
The investigation into the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge and the current legislature is being carried out by three appeals court judges who will determine whether the standing law does discriminate against same-sex couples.
Karen Celestino-Horseman, the lawyer for the claimants, said that they “maintain that parenthood is no longer defined by biology.”
They argued that the state allows heterosexual couples to say the husband is the father of a child who is conceived with a sperm donor, and so this should be extended to same-sex couples.
However, Sykes argued that it was “a policy argument to take to the legislature”.
Indiana called for the appeal hearing that Sykes held after a federal District Court judge sided with the same-sex couples and ruled that same-sex couples should be allowed to both have their names on the birth certificates of their children.
The state argued that this created an inequality because it “undermines the rights of biological fathers and their children”.
In Texas, the Senate just gave a final approval on House Bill 3859 which will allow adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBT people.
The ‘Freedom to Serve Children Act’ would allow state-funded adoption agencies to discriminate against couples based on religious belief.