Washington, D.C. – Chris Johnson reports in the Washington Blade that the U.S. Supreme Court, which many predicted would roll back LGBTQ rights with its new 6-3 conservative majority, has turned down a request to hear a case that would have undercut the guarantee of full marriage equality for same-sex couples nationwide. In its orders list Monday, December 14, the court without explanation signaled it had denied certiorari in the case, known as Box v. Henderson, which seeks to undermine the Obergefell v. Hodges decision in terms of birth certificates for children born to lesbian parents. Despite the widely-held perception marriage equality for LGBTQ families is settled law and beyond any challenge, the question before the court was squarely framed as challenge to same-sex marriage and asked the court to “take this case to address whether Indiana’s paternity-presumption law is consonant with Obergefell.”

                        The petition was filed by the state of Indiana, which sought in cases of children born to same-sex parents who are women to refuse to place the name of a non-birth mother on the child’s birth certificate, even if the two same-sex parents in the relationship are married to each other. In a filing before the Supreme Court on Nov. 23, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill contended “common sense” should allow states to presume the child born to lesbian parents had a biological father. “In the vast majority of cases, a birth mother’s husband will, in fact, be the biological father of the child, with all the rights and obligations attendant thereto,” Hill writes. “But a birth mother’s wife will never be the biological father of the child, meaning that, whenever a birth-mother’s wife gains presumptive ‘parentage’ status, a biological father’s rights and obligations to the child have necessarily been undermined without proper adjudication.”

            The state of Indiana has continuously failed in convincing courts to agree to its demands. State courts had ruled the state must place the names of both lesbian parents on their children’s birth certificates consistent with Obergefell. When the case reached the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, the appellate court affirmed those decisions and concluded the law must be applied the same for different-sex and same-sex parents. In an opposition brief to the Supreme Court on Nov. 10, lawyers with the National Center for Lesbian Rights and other attorneys maintained the Seventh Circuit “correctly construed state law.” In 2017, the Supreme Court had affirmed Obergefell applies to birth certificates in a separate case. In Pavan v. Smith, Arkansas challenged the decision as it pertains to birth certificates by refusing to place the name of the non-birth mother on the birth certificate of a child born to lesbian parents via an anonymous sperm donor. (Washington Blade – Chris Johnson at https://www.washingtonblade.com/2020/12/14/supreme-court-rejects-challenge-to-same-sex-parents-on-birth-certificates/)

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