Court rules for gay couple in birth certificate lawsuit

LAFAYETTE, Ind (AP) — A federal appeals court has sided with a gay married couple who challenged Indiana’s birth records law, arguing that it discriminates against them and their children because birth certificates don’t account for same-sex spouses as parents.

The recent decision from the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reaffirmed a lower court’s ruling in a 2015 case filed by Ashlee and Ruby Henderson that required the state to recognize legitimately the couple’s children as their own.

The Hendersons, of Lafay­ette, alleged that local and state health officials discriminated against them when the Tippecanoe County Health Department declined to put both of their names as parents on their son’s birth certificate in December 2014.

The county at the time allowed only Ruby Henderson, the birth mother, to be listed as a parent.

The three-judge panel appeals court rejected the state’s appeal, upholding U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Walton Pratt’s 2016 ruling.

“The district court’s order requiring Indiana to recognize the children of these plaintiffs as legitimate children, born in wedlock, and to identify both wives in each union as parents, is affirmed,” the appeals court wrote in its 10-page ruling.

Ashlee Henderson told the Journal & Courier that she was surprised when she heard about the Jan. 17 decision, which she has been waiting on since the case was argued in May 2017.

“My first reaction was such relief and shock,” said Henderson, who now also has a daughter. “After such a long wait, it was such an indescribable feeling to finally have answers. Good answers at that.”

The Indiana attorney general’s office is “disappointed” in the ruling and will consider next steps, spokeswoman Melissa Gustafson said.

The state could seek to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Karen Celestino-Horseman, Indianapolis attorney representing the Hendersons, praised the ruling.

“This one is just further affirmation of these families,” Celestino-Horseman said. “You’d think this would be settled. ... But we’ll wait to see what the state does. Wait, again.”

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