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In 'victory' for LGBTQ families, Supreme Court denies Indiana birth certificate case

Indiana's attorney general had asked the high court to reverse a lower court ruling allowing gay parents to both being listed on a child's birth certificate.
Ruby, left, and Ashlee Henderson in 2015.
Ruby, left, and Ashlee Henderson in 2015.Dave Bangert / Journal and Courier via AP file

INDIANAPOLIS — The U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday to take up an Indiana case seeking to reverse a lower court’s ruling that allows both members of same-sex couples in the state to be listed as parents on the birth certificates of their children.

The high court turned aside without comment a petition that Indiana’s attorney general, Curtis Hill, filed with the court last month. Hill had argued for the justices to reverse a January decision by the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals that affirmed a ruling by Indiana’s federal southern district court that said Indiana laws limiting who can be called a parent of a child were unconstitutional.

Karen Celestino-Horseman, the attorney for the plaintiffs who challenged Indiana’s birth records law, said “we’re delighted” about the high court’s decision not to hear the case.

“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,” she told The Indianapolis Star.

The original case involved Ashlee and Ruby Henderson, a gay married couple from Lafayette who filed a federal lawsuit in 2015 challenging Indiana’s birth records law. They sued the state health commissioner and Tippecanoe County officials because county officials would not list both of them as parents on the birth certificate of their son, who Ruby conceived through artificial insemination.

Seven additional couples joined the suit as plaintiffs after Indiana successfully appealed the case to the Chicago-based 7th Circuit, which found that requiring both women in a same-sex marriage to be listed as parents would prevent any discrimination.

In January’s decision, the appeals court found that under Indiana law, “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 wrote.

In his petition to the U.S. Supreme Court, Hill had argued that upholding the lower court’s decision would violate common sense and throw into jeopardy parental rights based on biology.

Indiana’s solicitor general, Tom Fisher, said Monday in a statement to WXIN-TV that “we are disappointed the Court declined to take up the case.”

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