Same-Sex Couple Wins Birth Certificate Legal Dispute

Same-Sex Couple Wins Birth Certificate Legal Dispute

North Carolina has settled a legal dispute with a same-sex married couple who sought to have both of their names listed on their two sons’ birth certificates. The two women traveled to Canada to marry in 2003 because North Carolina law did not recognize same-sex marriages, and the state’s Department of Health and Human Services refused to provide birth certificates listing them both as parents for sons they had in 2006 and 2008. The problem seemed to be an intractable one until October 2014 when a federal court ruled that North Carolina’s state’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.

Following the ruling, the two women applied for and were granted court orders stating that they were the parents of the two boys. These court orders were then sent to the DHHS along with documents proving that the two women married in Canada. However, the DHHS, after mulling the request for a year, still refused to issue new birth certificates.

The women were not prepared to let the matter drop, and they filed a lawsuit in December 2015 just months after the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges made same-sex marriage legal throughout the country. A nonprofit LGBT advocacy group announced on Nov. 15 that the matter had been settled and new birth certificates would be issued for the boys.

This case reveals that the road to justice can sometimes be a long and difficult one, but it also shows that perseverance and determination may be rewarded when the law is clear. One significance of this type of decision is that in the event of a subsequent divorce, both parents could be entitled to custody and visitation rights.


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