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COURT UPDATE! U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Rights of LGBTQ Families



The Supreme Court of the United States, even with a solid conservative majority, did an extraordinary thing December 14, 2020 in the realm of same-sex marriage rights. It denied hearing a case, Box v. Henderson, involving Indiana’s prohibition against recognizing same-sex parents on their children’s birth certificates. By ruling in the way it did, the Court decided that same-sex spouses and different-sex spouses must be treated equally.


This all stems from the 2015 landmark case Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage. Indiana responded in a knee jerk way with the Indiana Department of Vital Records refusing to place same-sex spouses on their children’s birth certificates as they do for different-sex spouses. The case was then brought by eight female same-sex couples who conceived children through sperm donation and wanted their same-sex spouses recognized on the children’s birth certificates.


This was a federal case. The first stop, in 2016, was the federal District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. The Court ordered the state to stop its discriminatory practice and to begin placing the spouses of people who give birth on their children’s birth certificate regardless of the gender of the spouse.


Not surprisingly, the state of Indiana appealed to the next highest court – the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. In January 2020 that Court upheld the ruling of the lower court and ordered the state to treat same-sex and different-sex couples equally. In so ruling, the Court noted that Obergefell v. Hodges required equal treatment and that the U.S. Supreme Court had also specifically required states to place same-sex spouses on birth certificates according to the same procedures available to different-sex spouses in Pavan v. Smith.


Again, not surprisingly, the state of Indiana filed a Petition for Certiorari, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case in June 2020. The Supreme Court then denied their Petition on December 14, 2020 (they refused to hear the case), upholding the Seventh Circuit’s opinion that Indiana must list same-sex spouses on their children’s birth certificates in the same manner that it does for different-sex spouses.


This is a great win for same-sex spouses all over the country! Having said this, however, states unfriendly to LGBTQ rights will continue to interfere in the rights of same-sex parents. Any same-sex parent who is not the biological parent of a child should do a second-parent adoption of their children as a prophylactic measure in the face of the changing nature of custody rights in their state and across states.


The Law Offices of Jane Migachyov can help with securing a second-parent adoption for a parent and give parents the peace of mind they deserve in their family relationships. Call, email or chat now!

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