June 7, 2009
Louisiana Birth certificate news
From the Times Picayune:
BATON ROUGE — Gay rights advocates fell one vote short Wednesday of derailing a bill designed to affirm that the state will not issue birth certificates listing the names of two unmarried parents who adopt a Louisiana-born child in another state.
The Senate Health & Welfare Committee’s action moves House Bill 60 to the full Senate floor, one step away from final passage. Gov. Bobby Jindal supports the measure, as does the Louisiana Family Forum, a conservative Christian organization, and the state’s council of Catholic bishops.
Sponsored by Rep. Jonathan Perry, R-Abbeville, and carried in the Senate by Sen. A.G. Crowe, R-Slidell, the bill comes during an ongoing federal court case concerning a Louisiana birth certificate.
U.S. District Judge Jay Zainey in December sided with two California men who sought a revised birth certificate listing both of them as the father of a Shreveport-born toddler they adopted in New York in 2006. The case awaits action by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has stayed Zainey’s order for a new birth certificate.
Perry’s bill would clarify that any birth certificate revisions would recognize only parents who would qualify to adopt under Louisiana law. That includes single adults and married couples, but not unmarried couples, regardless of sexual orientation.
Kyle Duncan of the Louisiana attorney general’s office said the case and the bill are about federalism. The U.S. Constitution, which generally requires that states recognize the decrees of courts in other states, should not force Louisiana to alter its records practice, Duncan said.
“This is not a case about discrimination,” he said.
Several witnesses disagreed, saying the bill unnecessarily denies some adopted children an accurate birth certificate. Parents who are not listed on the birth certificate could struggle registering their adoptive child for school or providing the child with health and life insurance benefits, they said, with those issues magnifying should the listed parent die.
Thomas Robichaux, another adoptive parent, said an unlisted parent could be denied the right to visit or make health decisions about a hospitalized child.
“What kind of hate do you have to have in your heart to keep a parent from their child?” he said.
Crowe steered clear of the constitutional issues.
“This is still a family values country, and it has continually been attacked,” he said. “And I’m not going to sit by and let it happen.”
Sens. Yvonne Dorsey, D-Baton Rouge; Cheryl Gray Evans, D-New Orleans; and David Heitmeier, D-Algiers, voted to defer the bill. Sens. Sherry Smith Cheek, R-Keithville; Dale Erdey, R-Livingston; and Ben Nevers, D-Bogalusa, voted against that measure. Committee Chairman Willie Mount, D-Lake Charles, broke the tie. On the final vote, Heitmeier joined the supporters to move the bill on, relieving Mount from casting a vote.
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Bill Barrow can be reached at email@example.com or 225.342.5590.