DHHS settles same-sex couple's suit over parental names on birth certificates
Posted November 15, 2016
Raleigh, N.C. — The state Department of Health and Human Services will now list the names of same-sex couples as parents on children's birth certificates as part of a legal settlement with a Chatham County couple.
Melissa and Meredith Weiss sued DHHS last December after the agency didn't respond to their requests to update the birth certificates of their sons, now ages 10 and 8. The couple was married in Canada in 2003, and Melissa Weiss gave birth to both children, although Meredith Weiss' eggs were used for their older son.
Although the couple had a court order recognizing both women as parents and ordering DHHS to include both names as parents on their children's birth certificates, state officials told the couple that North Carolina law allows only the name of a mother and a father on a birth certificate, according to the lawsuit.
The state's stance forced the woman not listed on each son's birth certificate to adopt the child, which the women said could pose a problem if they have to make emergency medical decisions for the boys.
With the lawsuit settled, both women's names are now listed on both of their sons' birth certificates.
"We are both thrilled and relieved," Meredith and Melissa Weiss said in a statement. "We just want our children to have the same respect, protections and treatment that every other child born to married parents receives. Today, our family and other families like ours can move forward."
DHHS spokeswoman Kendra Gerlach said the agency has been working toward updating birth certificates.
"The Department of Health and Human Services has been reviewing and updating its processes for birth certificates to reflect the many ways families are defined and children come into the world," Gerlach said in an email. "This change allows parents who are married at the time of conception or the birth of a child to have a birth certificate that reflects their unique circumstances and includes both parents’ names."