News Law and Policy

Iowa Supreme Court Hears Arguments Over Listing of Same-Sex Parents on Daughter’s Birth Certificate

Jessica Mason Pieklo

Heather and Melissa Gartner were legally married in Iowa and had a daughter together, yet the state refuses to list them both as parents on their daughter's birth certificate

The Iowa Supreme Court heard arguments this week in an important case in the fight for marriage and familial equality.

Heather and Melissa Gartner were married in 2009 and later that same year Heather gave birth to their daughter. Heather and Melissa Gartner want both of their names on their now 3-year-old daughter’s birth certificate. The Iowa Department of Public Health denied the request, arguing that Melissa is not a biological parent and therefore cannot be listed on the birth certificate.

Lambda Legal is representing the Gartners in the lawsuit and challenging the state’s interpretation of the law. Their attorney, Camilla Taylor explained this to KCCI News of Iowa “The spousal presumption itself has always meant the spouse of a birth parent is a parent by establishment of law by operation of law. They are an established parent, this holds true if the spouse is not the genetic parent of the child,” said Taylor.

In January a Polk County judge ruled in favor of Heather and Melissa and ordered that the department issue a new birth certificate listing Melissa Gartner as a legal parent. The state immediately appealed.

Appreciate our work?

Rewire is a non-profit independent media publication. Your tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.


A ruling in the case is not expected for several weeks.

Load More

We report on health, rights, and justice. Now, more than ever, we need your support to fight for our independent reporting.

Thank you for reading Rewire!