NEWS RELEASE: Equality Florida Asks Court to Tell Florida Officials to Follow the Law

Equality Florida Asks Court to Tell Florida Officials to
Follow the Law On Birth Certificates for Married Same-Sex Parents

August 14, 2015

(St. Petersburg) -- Florida officials responded to Equality Florida’s birth certificate lawsuit late Thursday by asking a federal judge to clarify the law. Equality Florida responded Friday by saying the law is already clear and urged District Judge Robert L. Hinkle to tell the state to start following it.

“The law is crystal clear: same-sex couples won the right to access every single benefit and protection of marriage, and the state is violating the law every day that they deny married same-sex parents accurate birth certificates,” said Nadine Smith, Equality Florida’s executive director.

“This is just another delaying tactic by Florida officials who for nearly a year have refused to take any meaningful steps towards resolving this issue.”

Three married same-sex couples and Equality Florida, represented by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Florida attorneys Mary Meeks and Elizabeth Schwartz, sued the state Thursday because its Bureau of Vital Statistics refused to put both married parents’ names on their newborn’s birth certificates.

Instead of responding to that suit, the state sought clarification from Hinkle in a separate case he decided last year. Because of his ruling in Brenner v. Scott and the ruling in a companion case brought by Equality Florida in state court, same-sex marriage became legal throughout Florida on January 6.

Hinkle’s ruling directed state officials, including Florida’s Surgeon General who oversees the issuing of birth certificates, to stop enforcing the state’s previous ban on same-sex marriage and to treat married same-sex couples the same as other married couples.

In its court brief filed with Judge Hinkle today, Equality Florida argued: “Obergefell [the U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down state marriage bans] makes clear that States must not only permit same-sex couples to marry, but must also extend every benefit connected to marriage to those couples on equal terms with opposite-sex couples.”

Equality Florida’s lawsuit is Chin v. Armstrong and can be read here.

(Photo of the Chin family)


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