Three married same-sex couples have sued the state of Florida because hospitals are not allowed to list both same-sex parents on birth certificates. Equality Florida, an advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, is also a plaintiff in the lawsuit.
The Florida Surgeon General and the Florida Department of Health Registrar are being sued, challenging the refusal of the Bureau of Vital Statistics (part of the Department of Health) to issue accurate birth certificates listing both spouses as parents of their children.
Florida law holds that when a married woman gives birth in Florida her husband should be listed as the father on the baby’s birth certificate. An attorney for one of the couple-plaintiffs wonders why the State does not apply the parental-presumption law to married same-sex couples.
Shortly after the birth of their twins, one of the plaintiffs was told by the hospital records manager that names of both spouses could not be on their children’s birth certificate because of state statutes that reference “man and woman”. The State of Florida says if the non-biological parent wants her name on the birth certificate she must adopt as a step-parent. The couple has an adopted son whose birth certificate, issued before the couple married, lists both parents.
Equality Florida says not listing the spouse hinders same-sex parents in everyday decisions and “denies children dignity, legitimacy, security, support, and protections available to children of married different-sex parents.” Parents who are not listed on the birth certificate have no legal claim to the children and may even lose custody if the parent listed on the birth certificate dies.
An attorney for the Florida Department of Health has asked a federal judge to clarify whether the Florida law, which mentions only husbands, contradicts the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage. The judge assigned to the case is the same judge who in 2014 declared Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.