Same-Sex Couple Confused After State Lists One Parent On Birth Certificate

By Mark Carlson, Reporter


By Mark Carlson

IOWA CITY, Iowa - A birth certificate listing only one parent has left an Iowa City same-sex couple confused. Last week Lindsey Clark and Joanne Abbas received a birth certificate for their second child, Thea. The certificate lists only Joanne as a parent, despite a May Iowa Supreme Court ruling, which states both same-sex parents should be allowed to put their names on a newborn’s birth certificate.

“[Joanne] opened it and said you’re not on here,” Lindsey Clark said. “I looked at her and I’m like, you’re joking.”

The couple said they filled out the necessary paperwork at the time of Thea’s birth. Abbas, who carried Thea, listed herself as the mother. Clark also listed her name on the paperwork with guidance from hospital staff.

“We’ve heard there are some other cases like ours,” said Clark. “I don’t understand why, after this ruling.”

The couple was told by the Iowa Department of Public Health that they would likely need to sign an affidavit and return the birth certificate to Des Moines before changes could be made. They weren’t given a timetable, Clark said.

“It’s outrageous the Branstad administration and the Attorney General, Tom Miller, are not following the ruling,” said Janelle Rettig, Johnson County chairperson. Rettig, who is also in a same-sex marriage, said she became very concerned after learning about this case earlier in the week.

Polly Carver-Kimm, spokesperson for the Iowa Department of Public Health, said in an email the state recently finalized a new birth sheet to improve the application process for same-sex couples.

“The District Court decision in the Gartner case [May ruling] included a stay preventing any changes for any other child’s birth certificate pending the Supreme Court appeal of the case. On July 8 the District Court issued the order lifting the stay. We have been working on processes for hospitals and the development of a birth work sheet for lesbian couples when one of the parties to the marriage is the birth mother. The new birth worksheet and the instructions were sent to the hospitals via e-mail [Wednesday],” she wrote.

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