Same Sex Couples File Lawsuit For Right To Be Listed On Birth Certificates

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UPDATED: Monday February 10, 2014 6:16 PM

The attorney in Cincinnati who successfully fought to have same-sex couples listed on Ohio death certificates has now filed a lawsuit urging a judge to allow same sex couples to be listed on birth certificates.

"At the end of our lifespan, a marriage is a marriage," said civil rights attorney Al Gerhardstein.  "Ohio needs to recognize that both from birth until death."

Gerhardstein says the four couples he represents are worried that having only one of them listed as a parent on their children's birth certificate could lead to future problems - like a denial of parental rights.

"The birth certificate is the official document from the state of Ohio that says 'these are your parents' and 'this is your child,'" Gerhardstein told 10TV.  "That birth certificate gets you into school, it helps you navigate all those approvals you need for sports, for travel, childcare and medical authorizations.  So it's an important symbolic document and very important practical document."

The lawsuit seeks a federal court order requiring Ohio to place the names of both married same-sex parents on the birth certificates of their children.

Plaintiffs include three lesbian couples married in states where same-sex marriage is legal.  One of the women in each marriage is pregnant through artificial insemination.

"I have no legal grounds to stand on," said Pam Yorksmith, who married her wife in California.  "That's not something that should be happening in our society."

The other plaintiffs are a gay couple legally married in New York.

"We want to be afforded the same benefits and rights as every other citizen of the United States," said Joe Vitale.  He and his husband adopted their 10-month-old son, who was born in Ohio.

Last year Gerhardstein represented Jim Obergefell and John Arthur, a gay couple living in Cincinnati.

In that case, federal judge Timothy Black ruled that Ohio must list a same sex couple on a death certificate.

"We believe the legal precedent set in the last case fully covers this application," said Gerhardstein.  "If you get a ruling that says you shouldn't discriminate on death certificates, we ought to get a ruling that you can't discriminate on birth certificates."

Ohio attorney general Mike DeWine is appealing that ruling.

A spokeswoman for DeWine told 10TV he would not comment on the new filing which was filed against the director of the Ohio health department.

How the judge rules in this new case could have impact on Ohio's constitutional amendment prohibiting same sex marriage.

"It's further evidence that from cradle to grave that marriage equality matters," said Ian James from FreedomOhio.  "That person has a family over here just like that straight couple does.  Shouldn't we treat the gay married couple with children the same way we would treat another other married couple who happens to be straight with children?"

Gerhardstein says his lawsuits are strengthening the case for supporters of a referendum that will overturn Ohio’s 2004 ban on gay marriage.

"It's our hope this will help move public opinion toward a full repeal and allowing same sex marriages," said Gerhardstein.

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