Tag Archives: birth certificate

Judge orders probe of state’s failure to issue photo IDs to voters

A federal judge has ordered the state of Wisconsin to investigate reports that transportation workers are failing to issue temporary photo IDs for voting, as required by law.

U.S. District Judge James Peterson issued his order around the same time a civil liberties group filed a motion in a separate case demanding a federal appellate court invalidate voter ID requirements in Wisconsin because the state hasn’t abided by its pledge.

Under Wisconsin law, voters must show a form of government-approved photo identification at the polls. People who lack such identification can obtain free photo IDs at state Department of Transportation Division of Motor Vehicles field offices.

The agency in May announced that people who want IDs but lack the underlying supporting documents such as birth certificates could get a receipt valid for voting. The move was designed to blunt a pair of lawsuits alleging that voters who lack such documents face tough challenges in obtaining free photo IDs.

Peterson ruled in July that the DOT’s petition process to obtain the receipt was a “wretched failure” because it still left black and Hispanic citizens unable to obtain IDs. He ordered the state to quickly issue credentials valid for voting to anyone who enters the petition process but lack the necessary documents, including birth certificates.

The Nation published a story last week alleging that DMV workers at a field office told a man named Zack Moore that he couldn’t obtain a temporary ID because he lacked a birth certificate and that the way IDs were being handled was still up in the air. The story went on to say that Molly McGrath, the national campaign coordinator with VoteRiders, visited 10 DMV stations where employees gave people a wide range of answers about how long it would take to get an ID.

Moore tried to obtain his ID on Sept. 22. That was the same day Attorney General Brad Schimel filed an update with Peterson saying all DMV field staff had been trained to ensure anyone who fills out an application to enter the petition process will get an ID mailed to them within six days.

“These reports, if true, demonstrate that the state is not in compliance with this court’s … order, which requires the state to ‘promptly issue a credential valid as a voting ID to any person who enters (the petition process) or who has a petition pending,”” Peterson wrote.

He ordered the state to investigate and report back to him by Oct. 7.

Transportation spokeswoman Patricia Mayers called the stories of problems at the DMV offices “concerning and … not consistent with DMV protocol.” She said the agency has already launched an investigation and will report its findings to Peterson, as ordered.

“DMV remains committed to working with all eligible voters to ensure they receive free identification, as required for voting,” she wrote in an email.

Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a motion in a separate voter ID challenge before the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The motion alleges that the DOT isn’t issuing voting credentials to people in the petition process and has violated its promise that anyone who goes to the DMV for photo IDs will get an ID with whatever documents they possess.

The ACLU alleged that DMV workers have failed to tell applicants the petition process exists, that applicants have had to make multiple visits to DMV offices and that workers have incorrectly told people that in order to begin the petition process, they need proof of identity such as a social security card — which can’t be obtained without a photo ID. As many as 1,640 eligible voters in Milwaukee County lack both ID and a Social Security card, the ALCU alleged.

The group also claimed that people who present birth certificates with misspellings haven’t been allowed to enter the process and DMV field offices offer limited hours. The motion asks the court allow voters who lack photo IDs to cast ballots by affidavit or completely invalidate the voter ID law.

“People who have started (the petition process) are supposed to get a temporary ID but as we’re seeing on the ground that’s not happening,” ACLU attorney Sean Young said in a telephone interview. “DMV employees aren’t implementing their own procedures. DMV cannot be trusted to this correctly.”

The state Department of Justice is defending the voter ID law in the case. DOJ spokesman Johnny Koremenos said agency attorneys are reviewing the ACLU’s filing.

— By Todd Richmond, AP writer

Judge: Wisconsin must put same-sex parents’ names on birth certificates

A federal judge has ruled that Wisconsin must put the names of many same-sex parents on their children’s birth certificates.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb granted judgment in favor of a Madison couple. Chelsea and Jessamy Torres filed the discrimination lawsuit last year because the state failed to put both their names on their baby’s birth certificate.

The couple argued that the state’s practice of listing opposite-sex parents on birth certificates, but not same-sex parents, is discriminatory. Chelsea Torres gave birth to the couple’s son Asher in March 2015 after undergoing artificial insemination.

Kyle Palazzolo, an attorney with Lamda Legal, which represented the couple, says many same-sex parents “can breathe a sigh of relief” because of the judge’s ruling.

“My sincere congratulations to all those who now have the legal certainty to simply be a happy family without worrying about their children’s legal status,” said state Rep. Mark Spreitzer in a statement to the press. “When I introduced the Marriage and Family Equality Act, a bill to update Wisconsin statutes to account for marriage equality, my goal was for our laws to be read in a gender-neutral way that recognizes equal rights for all couples.

“The Department of Health Services should immediately issue corrected birth certificates for all families whose equal rights it has denied. Other state agencies must recognize that marriage equality means equal access to all the rights and responsibilities of marriage for same-sex couples.

“While I’m thankful for this decision, I hope we can codify this decision by passing the MFEA, and bring permanent certainty to Wisconsin families.”

 

Dem to challenge Canadian-born Ted Cruz’s presidential eligibility

After enduring years of Republicans questioning the legitimacy of President Barack Obama’s presidency, at least one Democrat says he’ll file suit against U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s right to run for the nation’s highest office, if Cruz becomes the nominee.

Cruz, an ultra-conservative, religious right candidate, is rising in the polls. He’s now in a dead heat with Donald Trump among Iowa Republicans.

A number of Republicans, particularly those associated with the party’s tea party wing, have never accepted Obama’s status as a natural-born American. Obama was born in Hawaii to an American mother and an African father.

So-called “birthers,” including Trump, have created elaborate conspiracy theories claiming Obama was secretly born in Kenya. The birther movement contends Obama’s parents created counterfeit documents making it appear that he was born in Hawaii so that he could run for president when he grew up.

Many birthers believe the circumstances surrounding Obama’s birth were part of a scheme to plant him as a “Manchurian candidate” who would take his marching orders from the Muslim world.

Cruz was born in Canada to an American mother and a Cuban father. He held dual citizenship until 2014, when he renounced his Canadian citizenship.

The U.S. Supreme Court has never clarified whether someone with Cruz’s heritage meets presidential eligibility muster. But New Hampshire election officials rejected arguments that Cruz is unqualified to appear on the ballot there.

In an interview with Fox News radio’s Alan Colmes, U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, a Florida Democrat, said he plans to file suit against Cruz’s eligibility if he wins the GOP nomination. 

“He’s technically not even an American,” Grayson said.

Colmes, a liberal, didn’t disagree, suggesting it’s hypocritical of Republicans to have a problem with Obama’s birth certificate while Cruz was “literally born in another country.”

Under Title 8 rules, if a person is born outside the geographical limits of the United States and its territories to parents that include an alien and a U.S. citizen, that person is eligible for the presidency — but only if the natural-born parent was “physically present in the United States or its outlying possessions for a period or periods totaling not less than five years, at least two of which were after attaining the age of 14.”

Because the law is vague, Congress passed a resolution in 2008 stating that John McCain, who was born in Panama to a military family on assignment there, was a natural born citizen eligible to run for president.

Same-sex Madison couple sues state over missing name on birth certificate

A same-sex couple from Madison has filed a federal discrimination lawsuit because the state has failed to put both their names on their baby’s birth certificate.

Chelsea and Jessamy Torres say the state’s practice of listing opposite-sex parents on birth certificates, but not same-sex parents, is discriminatory.

WISC-TV reports the couple listed both their names on their son Asher’s birth certificate after Chelsea gave birth March 15. But, when the certificate arrived in the mail, the state had omitted Jessamy’s name.

The Torres’ lawsuit cites state law that says a birth mother’s spouse is the presumed parent of a child born during the marriage. And that opposite sex couples who conceive with the help of a fertility clinic, like they did, are routinely given birth certificates.

The couple was married in New York in 2012.

AMA calls for modernizing birth certificate policies

The American Medical Association this week adopted a new policy supporting the elimination of any government requirement that an individual must have undergone surgery in order to change the sex indicated on a birth certificate.

Across the country, state laws governing changes to a person’s gender on a birth certificate is granted to applicants who change their sex by “surgical procedure” and provide a court order to that effect. Only a handful of states allow corrections to gender markers on birth certificates on the basis of “clinically appropriate treatment,” as opposed to surgery, according to the AMA.

“Surgery shouldn’t be a requirement to align a person’s gender identity with their birth certificate,” said AMA president Ardis Dee Hoven. “State laws must acknowledge that the correct course of treatment for any given individual is a decision that rests with the patient and their physician.”

The AMA rejected “gender affirmation surgery” as the guiding requirement for changing birth certificates as inconsistent with current medical standards.

The new AMA policy also supports that any change of sex determination on an individual’s birth certificate must not hinder access to medically appropriate preventive care.

Medical options for transgender people include a medically appropriate combination of mental health care, social transition, hormone therapy, in addition to the option of sex reassignment surgery, the medical group agreed.

“Depending on what gender is recorded in these records, certain treatments, screening and procedures may be disallowed, despite the fact that best medical practices require adequate screening and treatment of a person, regardless of the person’s gender identity or gender transition,” said Hoven. “The AMA seeks to ensure that transgender patients always receive appropriate preventive care regardless of whether or not it matches with the gender on the birth certificate.”

The new policy was adopted at AMA annual meeting during the first business session of the House of Delegates, the primary policy-making body of the nation’s largest physician organization.

Christie vetoes transgender birth certificate bill

Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Jan. 13 vetoed a bill to allow transgender people to update the gender marker on their birth certificates to match their lived gender.

The bill passed by strong majorities in both the House and Senate. The governor’s veto means the existing law stands, which contains a requirement that transgender people undergo surgical procedures to obtain an accurate birth certificate.

Christie’s veto message said, “Birth certificates are often required to complete myriad security-related tasks. Accordingly, proposed measures that revise the standards for the issuance of amended birth certificates may result in significant legal uncertainties and create opportunities for fraud, deception, and abuse, and should therefore by closely scrutinized and sparingly approved.”

The statement also said “New Jersey already has an administrative process in place to streamline applications to amend birth certificates for gender purposes without court order.”

Responding, in a news release, Dru Levasseur of Lambda Legal’s Transgender Rights Project, said, “There is simply no justification for requiring transgender or intersex individuals to undergo unnecessary and often unavailable procedures in order to amend their birth certificates. New Jersey’s onerous surgery requirement is out-of-step with contemporary standards for transgender health care and imposes a hurdle that many cannot and should not have to meet simply to have identity documents that reflect who they are.”

A Lambda representative testified in favor of the legislation in December. Staff attorney Jael Humphrey told lawmakers that “birth certificates are the most basic proof of who we are.”

Humphrey continued, “Our identification documents are a gateway to employment, education and housing. They affect our ability to adopt or retain custody of our children, to secure a loan or to prove to our employers that we are authorized to work. When the gender marker differs from lived gender on identity documents, or the documents themselves are inconsistent, transgender and intersex people are robbed of their privacy and are more vulnerable to harassment, groundless accusations of fraud, discrimination and even violence.”

Other states and U.S. agencies have modernized policies regarding birth certificates and other documents, including the State Department and the Social Security Administration.

The New Jersey bill would have mandated a new birth record for people who have undergone “clinically appropriate treatment for the purpose of gender transition, based on contemporary medical standards.”

State Sen. Joseph Vitale sponsored the measure. The bill passed in the Senate in late December, 21-11. Assembly members approved the bill in June, 43-27.

Iowa Supreme Court rules for lesbian parents

The Iowa Supreme Court, Varnum v. Brien, today ruled that same-sex couples and their families must be treated equally under Iowa law and ordered the Iowa Department of Public Health to provide an accurate two-parent birth certificate to all children born to lesbian married parents in Iowa.

The court was unanimous in ordering the state to treat children of lesbian couples as having two parents at birth.

“By naming the nonbirthing spouse on the birth certificate of a married lesbian couple’s child, the child is ensured support from that parent and the parent establishes fundamental legal rights at the moment of birth. Therefore, the only explanation for not listing the nonbirthing lesbian spouse on the birth certificate is stereotype or prejudice,” the court said.

Camila Taylor of Lamba Legal, which argued the case, stated, “We take for granted that a husband is the father of a child born to his wife through reproductive technology – regardless of whether he is his child’s genetic parent. The same marital protection for both parents’ relationships to their child holds true for same-sex couples and their children. This is great news for the Gartner family and for the long list of children who have been born to married same-sex parents since 2009 and who have been waiting for a two-parent birth certificate that reflects their family.”

Iowa, according to Lambda, now joins every other state that permits same-sex couples to marry, enter into civil unions, or enter comprehensive domestic partnerships, in issuing birth certificates to children of same-sex couples in a legal relationship on the same terms as to children of married different-sex couples.

The Lambda case involved Mackenzie Gartner, who was born in September 2009, and moms Heather and Melissa Gartner, a lesbian couple who legally married in Iowa before Mackenzie was born. After receiving a birth certificate that listed Heather as the only parent, the couple requested a corrected birth certificate listing both spouses as Mackenzie’s parents.

Iowa’s Department of Public Health denied the request on the ground that Melissa is not Mackenzie’s genetic parent. However, Iowa law establishes that a child born to married parents is the legitimate child of both spouses regardless of genetic relationship, and requires the IDPH to list both spouses as parents on the birth certificate accordingly.

In May 2010, Lambda sued on behalf of Mackenzie Gartner.

In January 2012, the Iowa District Court for Polk County ordered the IDPH to issue an accurate birth certificate to Mackenzie, which it did while also appealing that court’s decision.

“We are both thrilled and relieved. We just want our child to have the same respect and treatment that every other child born to married parents receives, and now we can move forward,” said Heather Gartner in a news release from Lambda.

Agreement for gay sperm donor, lesbian moms

When Massimiliano Gerina donated his sperm to a lesbian couple nearly three years ago, the gay hair dresser wanted to be a father, not just a donor. Several months into his friend’s pregnancy, though, he claims the couple tried to force him out, leading to a lengthy court battle.

After years of heartbreak and distrust and tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees, the couple approached Gerina with an agreement last week. Three names would appear on Emma’s birth certificate, and Maria Italiano and her partner, Cher Filippazzo, were given sole parental responsibility, which means they get to make decisions about Emma’s health and well-being, according to their attorneys.

Gerina missed Emma’s birth and her first words, but now he gets weekly visits with his daughter, who is almost 2. 

“We created this family that is very unusual,” Gerina said. “Love doesn’t have sex or color. If you have love to give to a child, please just do it.”

Gerina, a 35-year-old stylist who cuts hair at a trendy salon, moved to Miami in 2005 from Italy. He said he always wanted to be a father, but worried it wouldn’t happen because he was gay. And he said he didn’t have a relationship with his own father.

He became friends with the couple after a few years of styling Italiano’s hair.  When she and Filippazzo approached him in 2010 about donating sperm and being a father, it seemed ideal, Gerina said.

“We went in always with the intention that Emma is going to know who her dad is … we wanted him to have a role in her life but not as a parent,” Filippazzo, 38, said.

The women, who were married in Connecticut, had spent thousands of dollars trying to get pregnant through in-vitro fertilization, but it never took. So the trio worked out the arrangement at a pizzeria and a few weeks later Italiano, 43, was pregnant.

“I never took this lightly. I knew that there was going to be money involved, time, emotions … and I was ready for it,” Gerina said, sitting in an outdoor cafe in front of the salon where he works.

Gerina was on the phone with the couple almost daily. He went to the ultrasound and friends threw him a baby shower. Everything seemed fine.

But seven months into the pregnancy, Gerina said the couple asked him to sign legal documents that essentially gave away his rights.

“Of course, I was hurt,” he said.

He hired a lawyer, who drew up legal papers describing the situation he thought had agreed to, but he said the women refused to sign it. In the meantime, he sued the couple and got a tattoo in honor of Emma on his arm.

Then, a few weeks before the trial, he said Filippazzo called him and said she only cared about doing what was right for her daughter.

“Emma needs you and you need Emma,” he recalled Filippazzo saying. “I want her to know that we came out between us with an agreement. I don’t want a judge, a stranger, to decide.”

A judge signed off on the arrangement on Jan. 31. In two years, the couple will consider letting Gerina have overnight visits with Emma.

Steve Majors, spokesman for the Family Equality Council in Massachusetts, said there weren’t any national statistics on couples who decide to co-parent, but he said the Florida case was significant.

“The fact that we have a dad who is playing a role in the upbringing of a child and being recognized on a birth certificate is very important because it speaks to the larger problem of many couples out there who do not have legal ties to their own children,” said Majors, whose group advocates on behalf of same-sex families.

Gerina’s attorney, Karyn Begin, said the three will navigate their future on their own terms.

“What’s important right now is that we have conditions that exist for this family to be together and only time will tell how it plays out for them,” Begin said.

For now, the three are busy planning Emma’s second birthday. They need to find a bounce house and decide whether to have an Elmo or Dora the Explorer cake, Gerina said.

“I love Massimo,” Filippazzo said tearfully, referring to Gerina. “I think he needed to feel that I love and appreciate him and that we could forgive and go forward.”

Iowa court orders birth certificate naming 2 moms

The Polk County, Iowa, District Court on Jan. 5 ordered the state health department to issue a birth certificate listing two women as the parents of their 2-year-old child.

The women had married under Iowa law and had their daughter in 2009, but the health department refused to list both the lesbian moms on the birth certificate.

Judge Eliza Ovrom, in the ruling, wrote that there “is a strong indication that the (Iowa) Supreme Court intended married same-sex couples to have legal recognition that their children are legitimate and entitled to the support of both parents. The Department’s refusal to place (the child’s) name on the birth certificate frustrates the purpose of the law to recognize the legitimacy of a child born to a marriage, and to establish the parents’ obligation to support the child.”

Lambda Legal attorney Camilla Taylor, who represented the women, said, “An accurate birth certificate is essential for a child’s physical, financial and emotional security.”

Cher blasts Donald Trump as Obama releases birth certificate

Cher has joined the growing chorus of celebrities denouncing Donald Trump for his insinuations that President Obama was born outside the United States.

“Pls retweet! Donald Trump (mr. chapter11) is Only a Mean Spirited BAD ACTOR who couldn’t find his ass with both hands & a map!” the diva tweeted on April 27.

In another tweet on the same day, Cher observed, “Donald Trump is Pompous Asshole! Saw him in Aspen with one Dcup chick after another Everyone up here thought he was a complete idiot.”

Trump, a real estate developer and reality TV star, has re-energized the so-called “birther” debate in an attempt to grab media attention as he explores a likely run for the Republican presidential nomination.

The president sought to put an end to the long-simmering debate by releasing copies of his original long-form birth certificate.

“We don’t have time for this kind of silliness,” Obama told reporters. “We’ve got better stuff to do. I’ve got better stuff to do.”

Trump took the White House response in stride, claiming credit for forcing the release of the birth certificate.

“Today I am very proud of myself because I have accomplished something that no one else has accomplished,” Trump said. “I am really honored, frankly, to have played such a big role in hopefully, hopefully, getting rid of this issue.”

But Trump added that he wants to see and examine the birth certificate for himself.

In related news, Rosie O’Donnell announced April 27 that she would not live in a Trump property while staying in Chicago to tape her upcoming talk show for the OWN network.

O’Donnell had previously said on the “Howard Stern Show” that she would be staying in a Trump high-rise on the Chicago River, stirring criticism from LGBT activists. Trump opposes marriage equality.

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation praised O’Donnell’s change of heart.

“Rosie O’Donnell has sent an important message to the majority of Americans – gay and straight – who don’t agree with Donald Trump’s statements against marriage equality for all loving and committed couples,” GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios said in a statement. “Fair-minded people should think twice about supporting a businessman who courts our dollars but advocates denying gay and lesbian couples protections that all families need to take care of each other.”

O’Donnell and Trump have feuded publicly in the past.

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