Two married lesbian couples – Noell & Crystal Allen and Jackie & Lisa Phillips-Stackman – claim, in federal court (see complaint, below) that Indiana refuses to list both spouses on a birth certificate. This has the effect of deeming the child to be born “out of wedlock.” In the case of one plaintiff couple, should anything happen to the birth mother, her spouse would not have custody of the child. Rather than being automatic, custody would be subject to the whims of a family court judge.
The lawsuit claims that the government officials’ refusal to recognize non-birth mothers as parents violates the equal-protection clause of the United States Constitution. The Phillips-Stackmans have a child who was born using in-vitro fertilization. Jackie’s egg was paired with a sperm donor, The fertilized egg was then implanted into Lisa.
The Allens expected to be the parents of twins. Crystal gave birth prematurely and the children died. The following day the hospital claimed that a court order would be required to put Noell on the birth certificate. As an aside they are already raising a five-year-old.
The suit seeks to force Indiana officials to list both parents on the birth certificates now and in the future. The plaintiffs point out the discrimination in that heterosexual couples are treated differently: “For example, a third person can serve as sperm donor and the husband is still presumed to be the father of the child even though he is not biologically related to the child.”
The complaint is a good and easy read. Four prominent Indiana firms are representing the two couples.