INDIANAPOLIS -- Eight lesbian couples went before a federal judge Friday, asking the court to allow both parents to be listed on their children’s birth certificates.
Indiana birth certificates list the birth mother and the father. For a lesbian couple like Nicki and Tonya Bush-Sawyer, that leaves one of them out.
Nicki is their son’s biological mother. Speaking outside the courthouse, she says the legal situation is particularly hard for them because she works full-time and Tonya takes care of their son.
“If anything were to happen and she were to take him to the hospital in the middle of the day while I’m working or if I’m traveling for work, she technically is not his parent and would not have any rights to make any medical decisions for him,” Nicki says.
The Bush-Sawyers are going through the adoption process to resolve the issue, but it’s expensive. The state says any non-biological parent should do the same – even heterosexual couples that use a sperm donor.
But attorney Karen Celestino-Horseman, who represents the same-sex couples, says Indiana law makes it easy for heterosexual couples to find their way around that complicated process.
“She can say ‘I want my husband to be listed as the father on the birth certificate,’” Celestino-Horesman says. “She doesn’t have to provide any proof – that’s it. He gets to walk out of the hospital with all the legal rights of a parent.”
The state says the issue is one that the legislature, not a court, should decide. The federal judge did not give a timetable for her ruling.