The United States Supreme Court declined to hear an Indiana case that sought to overturn a lower court’s ruling in regards to same-sex couples and birth certificates. The case hoped to reverse a ruling that allows both members of same-sex couples to be listed as parents on the birth certificate.
Last month, Indiana attorney general Curtis Hill filed a petition to reverse the ruling. He had previously argued for the SCOTUS Justices to overturn a U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals decision in January that affirmed another ruling stating that Indiana laws, which limit who can be called a parent, were unconstitutional. None of the SCOTUS Justices commented on the refusal to hear the case.
Karen Celestino-Horseman, attorney for the lesbian plaintiffs who challenged Indiana’s birth record law, called the court’s refusal to try the case a win.
“It’s a major victory that is going to keep the same-sex families together and the children born to these marriages will have two parents to love and protect them,” Celestino-Horseman told The Indianapolis Star.
The case started with Ashlee and Ruby Henderson, a married lesbian couple from Lafayette, IN who filed a federal lawsuit in 2015 to challenge the state’s birth certificate laws. The Hendersons sued the state health commissioner and the Tippecanoe County officials because they were not permitted to both be listed on the birth record of their son. Seven more couples joined the suit after Indiana appealed the case to the Chicago-based 7th Circuit, which found that “a husband is presumed to be a child’s biological father, so that both spouses are listed as parents on the birth certiﬁcate and the child is deemed to be born in wedlock.”
“There’s no similar presumption with respect to an all-female married couple — or for that matter an all-male married couple,” the judges continued, adding that requiring both partners to be listed, regardless of gender, removes any possible discrimination.
While this recent decision from SCOTUS is simply a refusal to hear the case, the implications are much more wide-reaching. In the past months, many have been speculating as to just how conservative the court would lean thanks to the addition of Justice Coney Barrett after the passing of late Justice Ginsburg. Plus, there have been a handful of overtly anti-LGBTQ+ stances from a few justices recently. However, the court refusing to hear this Indiana case means that there are some protections for the LGBTQ+ community that are not only being preserved, but protected as well. Perhaps this is a look into how the community will be treated under the new administration.