In a six-page decision, U.S. District Judge Mary Geiger Lewis, an Obama appointee, ruled in favor of Casy and Jacqueline Carson, a lesbian couple who married in 2014 and recently had twins. The state placed the name of Jacqueline Carson, the birth mother, on their twins’ birth certificates, but refused to do so for Casy Carson.
“With the Order, the Court declares Defendant’s failure to treat same-sex spouses in the same manner she treats opposite-sex spouses in the issuance of birth certificates violates Plaintiffs’ rights under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution,” Lewis wrote. “More specifically, this Court refuses to countenance Defendant’s refusal to name both Plaintiffs on their twins’ birth certificates. Defendant’s present practice is violative of Plaintiffs’ fundamental right to marriage and other protected liberties.”
The judge grants summary judgment in favor of the couple, but determined their request for injunctive relief is moot because the both couple and the state agreed to enter into a consent degree to obtain relief the couple sought.
A similar case may soon be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. The National Center for Lesbian Rights and other legal groups have filed a petition for certiorari asking justices to reverse a decision by the Arkansas Supreme Court upholding a law directing a Arkansas place to the name of a birth mother, but not her spouse, on their child’s birth certificate.
Tara Borelli, counsel at Lambda Legal and attorney representing the lesbian couple in the case, said in a statement the decision on the South Carolina law affirms same-sex parents “are entitled to the critical safety and security that a birth certificate provides.”
“It is long past time that states acknowledge the marriages of same-sex couples just as they do different-sex parents – and this decision is an important step in that direction,” Borelli said. “An inaccurate birth certificate causes real trouble in a family’s day-to-day life – everything from a parent not being able to enroll a child in school to not being able to authorize basic medical care.”
The Washington Blade has placed request for comment on the decision in with South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster and Attorney General Alan Wilson.