Last October, Jessica Aiken and Jenny Buntemeyer lost their son in utero. To add to their grief, the Iowa Department of Public Health (DPH) proceeded to erase Buntemeyer’s name from the death certificate because she was not the child’s “father.” The couple sued in February with support from Lambda Legal, arguing that because Iowa recognizes same-sex marriages, it has to recognize them both as parents, and a judge has now ruled in their favor. Though DPH tried to argue that death certificates only represent biological connections, Buntemeyer and Aiken argued that a mother’s husband can be listed as the father without a proof of paternity...Cases like this demonstrate the burden still placed on same-sex couples despite supposed equality under the law. It seems fair to characterize DPH’s reluctance as simple laziness — if not incapacity — to redesign a simple form. The law requires that both members of a same-sex couple be recognized as a child’s parents, and that should hold true in death as in life. Buntemeyer should not have had to endure being physically erased from her son’s death certificate just because the forms are haven’t caught up with the law.
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