(Courtesy Radio Iowa News’ Dar Danielson) – The Iowa Supreme Court has upheld a district court ruling that both names of a lesbian couple should be included on a birth certificate when one of the women has a child. Melissa and Heather Gartner were married in Des Moines on June 13 of 2009, two months after the Iowa Supreme Court ruled Iowa’s Defense of Marriage Act banning gay marriages was unconstitutional.
Heather gave birth to a child in September that had been conceived using an anonymous sperm donor. The Iowa Department of Public Health issued a birth certificate containing only Heather’s name on it as the parent of the child.
The Health Department said it would not put Melissa’s name on the birth certificate because the system for registration of births in Iowa recognizes the biological and gender roles of “mother” and “father,” based on the biological fact that a child has one biological mother and one biological father. Heather and Melissa sued, saying their rights had been violated.
The Iowa Supreme Court ruled in favor of the couple based the court’s decision that said failing to recognize the marriage of same-sex couples violated the equal protection clause of the Iowa Constitution. The court said failing to recognize married lesbian couples both as parents on the birth certificate also violates the equal protection clause.
The court ordered the Health Department to issue a new birth certificate that includes Melissa Gartner’s name along with Heather’s as the parents of the child.