By MARGERY A. BECK
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A Nebraska judge has rejected a lawsuit filed by two Omaha women who sought to have both their names listed as parents on their children’s birth certificates, saying the request conflicts with state law.
Lancaster County District Judge Ryan Post said in his ruling last month dismissing the lawsuit that state law requires birth certificates to acknowledge paternity. Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services policy also requires that parents listed on birth certificates be the biological parents of the child, he said.
The Nebraska chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union sued the state last year on behalf of Erin Porterfield and Kristin Williams. They said the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services repeatedly denied their request to amend one son’s birth certificate in their effort to get full legal recognition as parents of both their sons — one born to each woman conceived through a sperm donor.
Porterfield and Williams were in a romantic partnership from 2000 to 2013 — two years before same-sex marriage was legalized in Nebraska. Porterfield gave birth to their first son in 2002, and Williams gave birth to their second son in 2005 before their romantic relationship ended in 2013. But both women continue to share parenting duties.
In their lawsuit, the women said that state officials treat unmarried, same-sex couples differently than unmarried, opposite-sex couples, violating their due process and equal protection rights.
The women argued in their lawsuit that listing them both is critical because it could affect their children’s eligibility for government benefits, should something happen to one of them. They also accused the state of sexual discrimination because it allows men to voluntarily acknowledge that they are parents to get onto a birth certificate, but doesn’t allow women to do so.
“Our sons are our entire world and we want to make sure we’re doing right by them,” Porterfield said when the lawsuit was filed. “Our boys have a right to the security of having both parents on their birth certificates, a required document in so many life changes and decisions. That’s why this matters to us.”
But Judge Post said the women failed to identify “a single court that has adopted their constitutional arguments.”
“The court certainly understands why plaintiffs seek a policy change,” Post wrote. “But that policy decision is for the Legislature, not this court.”