Group says Iowa officials stalling on birth certificates for children of lesbian parents

Heather (left) and Melissa Gartner, with daughter Mackenzie.

Heather (left) and Melissa Gartner, with daughter Mackenzie.

DES MOINES, Iowa — The state’s largest gay advocacy group is accusing the Iowa Department of Public Health of needlessly delaying listing both partners in lesbian couples on their children’s birth certificates, despite an Iowa Supreme Court ruling earlier this year that it must do so.

Heather (left) and Melissa Gartner, with daughter Mackenzie.

The group One Iowa told the Des Moines Register on Friday that married lesbian couples are being directed to follow an affidavit process and provide certified copies of their marriage license before obtaining a birth certificate naming both parents — a process opposite-sex couples do not have to go through.

“It is unacceptable that the Iowa Department of Public Health is still dragging its heels on this very important issue of granting accurate birth certificates to children born to married lesbian mothers,” said Donna Red Wing, executive director of One Iowa.

Mariannette Miller-Meeks, who heads the public health department, said the department is in the process of establishing new worksheets and educating hospital staffs regarding lesbian couples and the filing of birth certificates.

An order preventing any changes to the birth certificate process was in place until July 8, Miller-Meeks said.

Lesbian couples needing assistance regarding birth certificates should call the public health department, she said.

In May, the Iowa Supreme Court ordered the department to start listing the names of both female spouses on the birth certificates of their children.

Heather and Melissa Gartner of Des Moines, sued after the department listed only Heather as a parent of their daughter in 2009. The couple argued the agency’s decision deprived their daughter of the protections and benefits of having two legal parents present from birth.

The ruling appeared to be limited to lesbian couples who use sperm donors to conceive children.

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