Torres v. Seemeyer
Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit on behalf Chelsea and Jessamy Torres, a married lesbian couple, seeking a birth certificate listing both mothers as parents of their son, born in March 2015.
Chelsea and Jessamy live in Madison and were married in New York in September 2012. About a year after getting married, the couple started planning a family. They used assisted reproductive technology and after several attempts and significant cost, Chelsea was able to get pregnant. After an overall healthy pregnancy, Chelsea was in labor for 72 hours and their son’s heart rate dropped dramatically at one point, requiring an emergency C-section. Their son was in intensive care for several days following his birth. The hospital staff treated the family very well, often referring to Jessamy as “Big Mom” and Chelsea as “Little Mom,” as Jessamy is 6’3” while Chelsea is 5’6”.
Upon arrival of their newborn son, hospital staff instructed Jessamy to fill out the “father” part of the birth certificate application. A couple of weeks later, Chelsea received a form from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services asking for confirmation of the information that was provided to generate a birth certificate. The form did not contain any reference to Jessamy, effectively eliminating her from the family in the eyes of the State.
Lambda Legal has successfully litigated on behalf of married same-sex couples seeking accurate birth certificates for their children in Iowa in the case Gartner v. Newton and in Ohio in Henry v. Hodges.
“Our son should grow up knowing his family is just like any other loving, caring family,” said Jessamy Torres. “He needs the same respect and treatment that every other child born to married parents receives.”
- May 2015 Lambda Legal files suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin.
- September 2015 Lambda Legal files a motion for summary judgment.
- September 2016 Victory! Court rules that the state of Wisconsin must issue accurate birth certificates listing both parents for the children of married same-sex couples, including the son of Lambda Legal clients Chelsea and Jessamy Torres.