Indiana asks US Supreme Court to deny parental rights to same-sex couples

Indiana is appealing a decision to the US Supreme Court that recognized lesbian mothers as parents to their children

The state of Indiana is asking the newly conservative Supreme Court to strip same-sex couples of their parental rights.

Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill asked the High Court to rule that states have the authority to deny married same-sex couples the right to be legally recognized as parents to their own children.

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The case is centered on eight married lesbian couples who used artificial insemination to start families. They want Indiana to recognize both mothers on the birth certificate but the state has refused to do so.

Supreme Court
A view of the Supreme Court in Washington, Monday, Nov. 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Ashlee and Ruby Henderson, who filed suit in 2015, were one of the couples denied their request by the Tippecanoe County Health Department. When their son was born the couple was not allowed to put both their names on his birth certificate. The health department, which issues them, cited Indiana state guidelines. A federal court ruled in the Henderson’s favor a year later, determining that same-sex married couples should have the same rights as heterosexual parents.

However, Indiana insists that biology is the determinative factor in paternity, arguing that two women cannot conceive a child and has taken the matter to the US Supreme Court. In the state’s laws, according to the Journal & Courier, it’s presumed that a child’s biological parents are a man and a woman. If that is not the case, as with same-sex parents, one parent would have to formally adopt the child to be considered the child’s legal parent.

“Doing so, however, is in tension with the traditional, constitutionally protected understanding that, at birth, only a baby’s biological parents have legal rights and obligations toward the child,” Tom Fisher, Indiana’s solicitor-general said about issuing the birth certificates to a same-sex couple. “To protect these rights, Indiana lists a child’s biological parents, and no one else, on the child’s birth certificate unless the child is legally adopted.”

A request was filed by Indiana on June 15 for the case to be reviewed after a U.S. Appeals Court ruled that same-sex couples were entitled to the same parental rights that heterosexual couples have.

“We are disappointed the state of Indiana continues to fight against families headed by same-sex spouses,” Karen Celestino-Horseman, the Hendersons’ Indianapolis-based attorney, said in June. “The Supreme Court has already spoken on this issue, and yet Indiana continues to expend resources fighting against same-sex marriage.”

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(Photo by Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images)
(Photo by Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images)

In September, the Supreme Court rescheduled a private conference on the case and asked for a response from the plaintiffs. The mothers asked the Court to reject the appeal by Indiana.

The justices will now hear the case in a private conference on Dec. 11, in a court now shaped by a 6-3 conservative majority who have openly criticized the landmark Obergefell v. Hodges decision that made gay marriage legal. Last month, Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito suggested the law needed to be overturned to maintain religious liberty.

“[Kim] Davis may have been one of the first victims of this Court’s cavalier treatment of religion in its Obergefell decision,” Thomas said, “but she will not be the last.”

Davis is the Kentucky clerk who in 2015 refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples citing her religious beliefs.

As theGrio reported, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on Sept. 18. The liberal jurist was replaced by Justice Amy Coney Barrett who ie expected to rule with the Court’s conservative majority.

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