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Same-sex couple sues DHHS over parental names on birth certificates

Posted December 17, 2015

N.C. Department of Health and Human Services

— A same-sex couple from Chatham County filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against state Department of Health and Human Services officials, alleging that the agency refuses to list both of their names as parents on their children's birth certificates.

Melissa and Meredith Weiss were married in Canada in 2003 and have two sons, now ages 9 and 7. Melissa Weiss gave birth to both children, which were conceived through in vitro fertilization using donor sperm and eggs from the two women – Meredith Weiss' eggs for the older son and Melissa Weiss' for the younger son.

Before their first son was born, the couple obtained a court order recognizing them both as parents of the child and ordering DHHS to include both names as parents on the child's birth certificate, but the agency listed only Meredith Weiss as the mother, according to the lawsuit. State officials told the couple that North Carolina law "allows only the name of a mother and a father to be listed," so both women's names couldn't be included, the suit states.

Because of the state's stance, the parent not listed on each son's birth certificate had to adopt the child, but they argue that birth certificates are often needed for identification purposes when registering for school, when dealing with insurance and health care providers and when seeking public benefits such as Social Security.

"Because they lack accurate two-parent birth certificates for their sons, the Weisses now encounter obstacles when they are required to show that they are both parents to their two sons in interactions with individuals, institutions, agencies and others," the lawsuit states. "The Weisses suffer from the stress and anxiety that one of them would be unable to make medical and emergency decisions without proof of their parentage on the children's birth certificates."

The lawsuit states that DHHS has entered the names of same-sex couples on birth certificates issued since May 13, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down all state laws barring gay marriage. The Weisses have applied to have their sons' birth certificates amended but have received no response from DHHS, according to the suit.

The couple contends that the state's dividing line for recognizing both parents of children of a same-sex couple is arbitrary and an unconstitutional violation of the equal protection and due process provisions of the 14th Amendment.

"The failure of DHHS to amend the Weiss children's birth certificates deprives these children of the dignity, legally recognized parent-child status, security, support and protections available upon birth to other marital children and denies Melissa and Meredith the privacy, dignity, security, support and protections available to other married parents," the lawsuit states.

DHHS officials said they haven't yet seen the lawsuit.

17 Comments

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  • Chase Truman Dec 18, 2015
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    Seems to me people are making a big deal over nothing. And for the folks on here who have a problem with both women's names being on the certificate: how does it affect your life in the slightest? Regardless of whose name is on the certificate, your life will go on just the same as it was yesterday and the day before. If the women want both of their names on the certificates, let them be on there! They are the parents and should be able to have that. This affects all of our lives in NO WAY at all, so why do any of you care other than to just be hateful of people who are different than you?

  • Ronnie Reams Dec 18, 2015
    user avatar

    Sounds like much ado about not much. In my nearly 7 decades I've been asked for BC for many things, but NEVER to prove who my parents are.

  • Chase Truman Dec 18, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread


    Are you serious?

    The article doesn't say whether the kids were BORN in Canada or not. Only if they were born there should they have a certificate from Canada.... hence the term "BIRTH certificate".

    "If the folks were married in Canada and the kids conceived through in vitro in Canada then they should have a Canadian birth certificate." That makes no sense at all. If I married someone in NC and we naturally conceived a child while living in NC, but then moved to Ohio before the baby was born, would the baby still then get a NC birth certificate instead of an Ohio birth certificate? The obvious answer is, no. When a baby is born, they don't ask you where you conceived the child, only where it was actually born.

    And your other points are ludicrous. This has nothing to do with them trying to keep their kids from having citizenship in Canada. Please think before you speak. Or better yet, just stop talking.

  • Carl Keehn Dec 18, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread


    A birth certificate not not list biological parents, it lists the parents of record. When we adopted our children, their original birth certificate was sealed and a new one was issued, listing my wife and I as the parents.

  • Carl Keehn Dec 18, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread


    No, as adoptive parents, my wife and my name are listed on both of our son's birth certificates. Under adoption, the original birth certificate is sealed and a new one is issued, listing the adoptive parents.

  • Roy Hinkley Dec 18, 2015
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    View quoted thread



    "Proof of parentage should be defined by biology...", for DHHS biology isn't a factor.

  • Maurice Pentico Jr. Dec 18, 2015
    user avatar

    Biology and bureaucracy apparently dont mix. Proof of parentage should be defined by biology.... proof of parental responsibility can be proved by adoption documentation or a power of attorney. In the event these documents are not accepted by the person/agency they are being presented to... sue them... not the State.

  • Kim Schrock Dec 17, 2015
    user avatar

    The state got it right. They will have to adopt. A birth certificate is only a certificate of live birth. If the court order was obtained prior to the children being born, you know it was not an NC court order. Not from 10 yrs ago that is for sure. If the folks were married in Canada and the kids conceived through in vitro in Canada then they should have a Canadian birth certificate. What kind of scheme/scam is this to get a birth certificate after 9 yrs in NC? These two maybe trying to deny the children their legal right to be Canadianness.

  • Mark Cooper Dec 17, 2015
    user avatar

    "blood relation"... just idiocy...

    There are thousands, if not more, adopted kids in the state. There are thousands of men and women that are not able to "help" conceive and use donor eggs or sperm.

    Later in their lives this could also affect the inheritance concerning the kids if things go sideways in the parental relationship.

  • Greg Klayton Dec 17, 2015
    user avatar

    In this case just eliminate "mother" and "father" and put legal guardian for both instead. Problem solved.

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