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Case seeking to enforce the presumed-parentage statute that provides a birth certificate listing both parents for children born to all married couples.

Lambda Legal represents 7-month-old MacKenzie Gartner and her married parents, Heather Martin Gartner and Melissa Gartner, in a lawsuit challenging the state of Iowa’s refusal to issue an accurate birth certificate to MacKenzie that lists both of her mothers as parents.

As a result of Lambda Legal’s marriage equality lawsuit Varnum v. Brien, same-sex couples have married in Iowa since April 2009. Under Iowa law, a child born to a married couple is presumed the legitimate child of both spouses. This presumption applies equally to children of same-sex and different-sex married parents. In accordance with this presumption, Iowa law requires the Iowa Department of Public Health to list both spouses as a child’s parents on the child’s birth certificate regardless of whether the child bears a genetic relationship to both spouses, and even in cases where it is impossible for the child to be genetically related to both spouses. However, the Iowa Department of Public Health has refused to apply this law equally to the children of same-sex couples, denying them—and only them—accurate birth certificates until their married parents perform a costly and intrusive adoption proceeding.

Because the children of same-sex parents deserve to have their requests for birth certificates treated in the same manner as other children, Lambda Legal brought suit in May 2010.

    • May 7, 2010 Case is filed in the Iowa District Court for Polk County.
    • January 4, 2012 Victory! Court orders state to provide accurate birth certificate.
    • May 21, 2012 Lambda Legal files brief with Iowa Supreme Court. 
    • December 11, 2012 Court hears oral arguments.
    • May 3, 2013 Iowa Supreme Court is unanimous in ordering the state to treat children of lesbian couples as having two parents at birth.