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Supreme Court asked to consider chilling case that could strip same-sex couples of parental rights

Emma Powys Maurice November 27, 2020
Same-sex parents

Same-sex parental rights could be under threat if a Supreme Court ruling is overturned (Envato)

Indiana’s attorney general has asked the Supreme Court to overturn a ruling that allows same-sex couples to both be listed as parents on their child’s birth certificate.

The ruling came after a four-year legal battle fought by two lesbian parents, Ashlee and Ruby Henderson, who sued county health officials when they refused to include them both on their son’s birth certificate.

Their lawsuit argued that it was discriminatory to force one mother from a same-sex marriage to fork over $4,000 to $5,000 to legally adopt their child.

Seven additional couples joined the suit as plaintiffs, and in January 2020 the courts finally ruled that since Indiana law presumes a husband to be the biological father of a child born in wedlock, a same-sex spouse should also be considered a parent on the birth certificate.

Ten months later, Indiana attorney general Curtis Hill is seeking to overturn it all.

He’s submitted a brief asking the Supreme Court to review the landmark decision — a move that had the Hendersons’ attorney wondering why state officials “continue to fight against families headed by same-sex spouses,” Indystar said.

Hill’s 46-page brief argues that upholding the lower court’s decision would violate common sense and throw into jeopardy parental rights based on biology.

“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,” he wrote.

When a similar case from Arkansas came before the Supreme Court in 2017, judges determined that precluding one parent from a birth certificate infringes upon their rights as a married couple. But the courts could reach a very different outcome in Indiana now that Trump has stacked the judiciary in his favour.

It’s among the first cases submitted to the Supreme Court dealing with same-sex marriage since the confirmation of justice Amy Coney Barrett, and is likely to be a test of things to come.

More: birth certificate, Indiana, same sex parents, supreme court

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