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Kansas Same-Sex Couple Struggles to be Listed as Parents on Birth Certificate

February 1st, 2022

A federal judge previously issued a preliminary injunction that allowed religiously affiliated adoption agencies to refuse same-sex adoptions.
A same-sex couple in Kansas has been denied the right to be listed on their child’s birth certificate due to discriminatory intent.

Almost 7 years after the Obergefell decision, parts of the country are still deciding how to address some aspects of family life for LGBTQ+ individuals. Parents, as well as prospective parents, are still denied equal rights under the law in various situations. The following considers challenges faced by an LGBTQ+ couple in Kansas who are struggling to be listed on the birth certificate for their child.

How the Birth Certificate Matter Arose

Two women were in a committed relationship for over eight years when they decided to have a child together. As a result, the couple navigated the process to utilize anonymous donor sperm to conceive a child. Following the delivery of the child in September 2021, the partner who gave birth signed a consent form so the other partner would be listed as the other parent on the child’s birth certificate. The partner then signed a statutorily required acknowledgment of parentage and rights and responsibilities. Even though the couple had completed the legally required steps, the hospitals where the child was born declined to add the partner’s name to the child’s birth certificate application.

A lawyer took on the couple’s case and advised the hospital that it was not in compliance with Kansas law. On the other side of the argument was the Kansas hospital as well as the Kansas Department of Health and Environment Office of Vital Statistics. The lawyer for the couple quickly obtained a court order on behalf of the couple. This court order declared that both parents were the legal parents of the child. Despite the existence of this court order, Vital Statistics still declined to list both parents on the child’s birth certificate. The attorney for Vital Statistics agreed that the office would “later” issue an amended birth certificate that complied with the court order. 

The parents did not consent in any way to the discrimination from Vital Statistics. Consequently, an injunction was obtained against Vital Statistics that prevented the organization from issuing birth certificates naming only one of the parents. The outcome of the court’s decision is pending.

The Parent’s Argument in the Case

The parents argue that Kansas law is clear and does not require a parent to be either married to the birth parent nor genetically connected to the child to be named on a child’s birth certificate. After giving birth, a woman can consent to a man being named on the birth certificate, and provided the man signs the necessary agreements, Vital Statistics must include the man on the original birth certificate. 

Documenting LGBTQ+ Rights

While the 2015 Obergefell decision led to the legalization of same-sex marriage nationwide, LGBTQ+ people are still being discriminated against in all manner of ways. From bakers and florists who refuse service to people celebrating same-sex weddings, to gay youth who may still be forced to undergo conversion therapy in 22 states. Indeed, there are still no nationwide non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people, but federal legislators continue to push for the such protections through passage of the Equality Act.

Each week, countless cases throughout the country examine the limits of civil rights and religious liberties. The Universal Life Church’s blog focuses on the most noteworthy of these cases. We strive to document matters in a way that considers both sides of each argument and which can be readily understood by readers.

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