Skip to Main Content

Need help understanding your rights as an LGBTQ+ person or someone living with HIV? Visit our virtual Help Desk.

Case seeking birth certificates from the state of Virginia that reflect the names of the same-sex adoptive parents


Three same-sex couples, two living in Washington, D.C., and one in New York City, adopted children who had been born in Virginia. The adoptions were approved by the couples’ home states, but Virginia authorities refused the couples’ applications for new birth certificates listing both adoptive parents, claiming that this would violate Virginia’s rules concerning birth certificates as well as the state’s policy against same-sex marriage. The couples sued, and when the Virginia trial court upheld the state’s refusal, Lambda Legal stepped in with a friend-of-the-court brief for the appeal to Virginia’s Supreme Court. The brief argued that the state’s own rules require officials to adopt forms showing complete and accurate information about the adoptive children’s legal parents, and that the U.S. Constitution requires Virginia to recognize adoption judgments of other states. The Virginia Supreme Court ruled that Virginia must indeed issue birth certificates listing the names of both same-sex adoptive parents.


Though there are roughly 250,000 children in the United States being raised by same-sex couples, the rights of these parents vary widely among states. Only about half permit second-parent adoptions by the unmarried partner of an existing legal parent. Once an adoption is performed, the U.S. Constitution requires all states to recognize the parent-child relationship created by that adoption.

Lambda Legal’s Impact

Our friend-of-the-court brief helped turn a defeat into a victory on appeal and ensured that all children born in Virginia and adopted into families in other states have access to accurate birth certificates reflecting their relationships to their legal parents.


  • April 2005 The Virginia Supreme Court rules in the couples’ favor.