US: Virginia rejects birth certificate ban for gay parents

Angela D’Amboise | January 20, 2006

RICHMOND, Virginia — A Senate committee narrowly killed legislation banning gay adoptive parents in other states from getting both of their names listed on birth certificates issued by the state of Virginia.

The Education and Health Committee voted 8-7 to kill the measure, which Senator Emmett Hanger filed in response to a ruling last April by the Virginia Supreme Court.

In that case, the court said the state Department of Vital Records must provide new birth certificates for children born in Virginia and adopted by same-sex couples in other states. Three gay couples had filed suit after the state refused to issue new certificates for their adopted children.

Hanger's bill would have allowed only one same-sex partner to be listed on a birth certificate. Hanger argued that is consistent with Virginia law prohibiting joint adoptions by unmarried couples, including gays and lesbians.

”Wouldn't the other partner feel terribly discriminated against?” asked Sen. H. Russell Potts Jr., a Republican and chairman of the committee. “Aren't you creating a situation of recognizing one member of a family as being important and one being a nonentity?”

Aimee Perron Seibert, lobbyist for the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, told the committee that listing only one adoptive parent's name on a birth certificate could prevent the other parent from obtaining school records or medical care for the child.

Dyana Mason, executive director of the gay-rights group Equality Virginia, also spoke against the proposal. She said it would violate the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution, which requires states to honor rulings issued by courts in other states.

Potts, who made news during his independent campaign for governor last year by publicly supporting gay adoption, joined all seven Democrats on the committee in voting to kill the measure. – Issued by Gay Link Content

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