This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
A married lesbian couple is suing to force the state of Utah to automatically recognize both women as legal parents to their newborn child something current state law only grants to husbands, attorneys for the couple say.
Angie and Kami Roe welcomed a baby girl, Lucy, into their life in February. The baby is the biological child of Kami and was conceived with the help of donated sperm.
Under Utah laws that govern assisted reproduction, however, only the husband of a woman who conceives through the use of donated sperm is automatically recognized as a child's parent, court papers filed Monday in Salt Lake City's U.S. District Court say.
Because Angie Roe is not a man and not a husband, Utah's Office of Vital Records and Statistics has refused to issue the family a birth certificate that designates her as Lucy's parent. The Roes have been told they must obtain a second-parent adoption through the state courts in order to secure a birth certificate that names both women as Lucy's parents.
Attorneys for the ACLU of Utah and the national ACLU LGBT project filed a lawsuit on the West Jordan couple's behalf, asking a judge to order the state agency to issue a birth certificate that recognizes both parents.
"A same-sex spouse and a different-sex spouse whose wife conceives through donor insemination are similarly situated in all relevant aspects," the ACLU argues in court papers. "The purpose of the statutes is to immediately establish parentage for a spouse who has consented to bringing a child into the world, whether or not that spouse shares a genetic relationship with the child."
Failing to recognize same-sex spouses differently in matters of parentage violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, the lawsuit contends.
No hearings have been set in the case, which has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Dee Benson.
Named as defendants in the lawsuit are the vital records office, its umbrella agency, the Utah Department of Health and the respective directors of both offices, Richard Oborn and David Patton.
In a statement, UDOH spokesman Tom Hudachko said the agency had not yet seen the lawsuit but had been working for months to resolve the issue with the ACLU and the Roes.
"Our hope is to resolve the issue at hand in a manner that serves the best interest of all parties," Hudachko said.
Court papers say the Roes have been a couple for five years and were married Dec. 20, 2013, after Utah's ban on same-sex marriage was overturned as unconstitutional by a federal judge.
They jointly decided to have a child in May 2014 and signed legal documents affirming Angie Roe's consent for Kami Roe to conceive with the aid of donor semen.
But staff at Jordan Valley Medical Center refused to accept the paperwork the couple submitted for Lucy's birth certificate and an "adoption/court order specialist" told the couple they would have to seek a second-parent adoption, court papers say.
The adoption process includes filing a $360 court petition, submitting to a background check through Utah's Bureau of Criminal Identification and the Division of Child and Family Services and getting the approval of a judge.
"Kami and I should not have to go through an expensive, invasive and time-consuming step-parent adoption process in order for [the state] to provide Lucy the protection of two legal parents," Angie Roe said in a statement provided by the ACLU. "All we are asking is to be treated the way that other married couples are already treated under state law."
The lawsuit also asks the court for a preliminary injunction requiring the state to recognize Angie Roe as Lucy's parent while the case is argued.