Gay couples argue for inclusion on birth certificates

THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA

Saying Florida can’t choose among the “constellation of benefits” available to same-sex couples, attorneys this week filed a document asking a federal judge to require the state to allow married gay couples to put both parents’ names on children’s birth certificates.

The document, filed Monday by Attorney William Sheppard and other Jacksonville lawyers who represented couples in a challenge to Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage, came after the state filed a motion on Aug. 13 for clarification, indicating that gender-specific language in state law appeared to prevent married same-sex couples from being listed as parents on birth certificates.

It also came after three married lesbian couples and the Equality Florida Institute challenged the state’s refusal to identify both same-sex parents on newborns’ birth certificates.

In Monday’s brief, attorneys for same-sex couples pointed to a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June that found gay couples have a fundamental right to marry.

“Denial of a married same-sex couple’s rights to have each parent’s name issued on a birth certificate, notwithstanding (a section of state law that uses gender-specific language), violates these constitutional principles,’’ the document said. “None of the (state) defendants in this case have proffered a justification for why same-sex couples should be excluded. To the extent that this court can assume that their justifications are the same as the ones they asserted for the ban on same-sex marriage as a whole, those reasons must fail now, just as they did then.”

The document was filed by attorneys who represented same-sex couples in a case that helped lead to U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle ruling last year that Florida’s ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional.

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