US Supreme Court declines to hear Indiana’s appeal; same-sex couples can be listed on children’s birth certificates

Indiana

FILE – In this May 3, 2020, file photo, the setting sun shines on the Supreme Court building in Washington. As coronavirus cases surge again nationwide, the Supreme Court late Wednesday, Nov. 25, temporarily barred New York from enforcing certain attendance limits at houses of worship in areas designated as hard hit by the virus. The court’s action won’t have any immediate impact since the two groups that sued as a result of the restrictions, the Catholic church and Orthodox Jewish synagogues, are no longer subject to them. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an Indiana case involving same-sex couples and the birth certificates of their children.

The high court’s decision means a lower court’s ruling will stand that allows the names of same-sex couples to be listed as parents on their children’s birth certificates.

Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill had petitioned the court after the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a decision from Indiana’s federal Southern District court that determined Indiana laws limiting who could be called a parent were unconstitutional.

“We are disappointed the Court declined to take up the case,” said Solicitor General Tom Fisher in a statement.

The original case involved Ashlee and Ruby Henderson, a married couple from Lafayette. They filed a federal lawsuit in 2015 challenging the state’s birth records law after county officials were unable to list both of their names as parents on their son’s birth certificate. The child was conceived through artificial insemination.

The couple argued that leaving one of their names off the birth certificate presented legal issues regarding health insurance coverage and who could speak for their child at a doctor’s appointment.

The Hendersons won their initial case in 2016. Additional couples later joined the lawsuit as the state appealed it to the 7th Circuit. The court ruled in January that under Indiana law, “a husband is presumed to be a child’s biological father, so that both spouses are listed as parents on the birth certificate and the child is deemed to be born in wedlock.”

“There’s no similar presumption with respect to an all-female married couple — or for that matter an all-male married couple,” the judges wrote, adding that requiring both women in a same-sex marriage to be listed as parents would prevent any discrimination.

In appealing to the Supreme Court, Hill argued that upholding the lower court’s decision would violate common sense and throw into jeopardy parental rights based on biology.

Drew Anderson, a spokesman for the Indiana Democratic Party, issued the following statement on the ruling:

“The U.S. Supreme Court has now made it clear to everyone that LGBTQ Hoosiers should have the same God-given privileges as everyone else, which includes having job security, getting married, and starting a family with the person they love. The Indiana GOP is still not long-removed from the days of Mike Pence and RFRA, and we suggest Hoosier Republicans get with the times and stop creating useless political theater that does nothing but destroys our trust and divides the state.”

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(This story was originally published on December 14, 2020)

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