Yes, in 2017 married, same-sex couples were granted the right to put both parents’ names on their child’s U.S. birth certificate. The change was granted due to a Supreme Court ruling that stated that same-sex spouses should have the same rights as heterosexual spouses.
This was huge win for same-sex couples with children. It also forced several changes to vital records and vital statistics, and how same-sex couples and their children access them.
We’ll go over the details of the new laws and show you some of the changes made to vital records, as well as how same-sex couples can apply for a birth certificate for their child that includes both of their names.
Do all states allow same-sex parents on a birth certificate?
Yes! The Supreme Court case we mentioned previously challenged the Arkansas State Supreme Court’s ruling on Pavan vs. Smith. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the ruling in 2017, granting married, gay couples the right to put both of their names on their child’s birth certificate. Since this was a federal ruling, the law applies to all 50 states.
Are there any rules for same-sex couples registering a birth?
Yes, since the Supreme Court ruling only affects same-sex couples who are married. The ruling established that all married couples have the right to equal treatment when applying to get a birth certificate for their child. So, married, same-sex parents can complete their child’s birth certificate forms using both of their names, the same way heterosexual married couples would.
However, this does not apply to non-married homosexual couples, in every state at least. Some states do allow same-sex parents to put both of their names on the birth certificate, whether they are married or not, while others do not. The states that do allow this are:
A few states have simply changed the wording on their birth certificate forms to accommodate every type of couple, using the term “parent”, instead of “mother” and “father.”
However, just putting both parents’ names on the birth certificate is not a guarantee of parental rights to the child. So, same-sex couples may need to go through the adoption process to formally establish the rights of both parents. But, this applies to unmarried, heterosexual couples as well. For example, even if the biological father’s name is listed on a child’s birth certificate, this does not automatically mean that the father is entitled to parental rights. It only means that he is claiming responsibility for the child and acknowledging that he is the child’s biological father. If the child’s parents are not together, then they will need to go to court to establish parental rights.
In addition, same-sex couples who have a child using a surrogate are not allowed to put their names on the birth certificate unless they get a court order showing that they will be the child’s parents or go through the adoption process after the birth.
What does a birth certificate with same-sex parents look like?
It depends on the state the birth certificate is issued in. As we mentioned earlier, several states have updated their forms to allow gay parents to select any of the these titles:
So, the child’s birth certificate may have two mothers, two fathers, or a combination.
Although there are still some laws that need to be changed to fully grant homosexual families the same rights as heterosexual families, this ruling was a huge step forward.