Arguments before Circuit Court Judge Randall Johnson tomorrow at 2:30 p.m.A Richmond Circuit Court judge will hear arguments tomorrow on behalf of three same sex couples who were denied new birth certificates for their four adopted children. The children where born in Virginia, but adopted under the laws of Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania.
It is common practice for parents to seek new birth certificates for their adopted children, in which their names are substituted for the birth parents’ names. Ordinarily, the Virginia Department of Vital Records honors such requests through a simple administrative procedure. But when each of the same sex couples sought to have both their names placed on their adopted child’s birth certificate, the Department refused.
“In a just world, this should be a straight forward process in which legal adoptive parents, regardless of their gender, would fill out a simple form and obtain new birth certificates for their children,” said ACLU of Virginia executive director Kent Willis.
“But this is Virginia,” added Willis, “where no one should be surprised that state officials are reluctant to recognize the rights of gay and lesbian couples. Nonetheless, it’s a shame that we had to resort to a lawsuit to fix such an obvious wrong.”
In May 2002, after attempting to resolve the matter short of litigation, lawyers for the ACLU of Virginia and two Washington, D.C., law firms filed suit on behalf of the three couples and their four children. The complaint filed in Richmond Circuit Court claims that the Department of Vital Records violated the Virginia birth certificate statute and the U.S Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. It also claims a violation of the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution, which requires states to honor each others laws.
Lawyers representing the plaintiffs in the case are Rebecca K. Glenberg, legal director of the ACLU of Virginia; Michael Ward, David Lubitz, Steven Tave, and Dave Ackerman, with Swidler Berlin Shereff Friedman, LLP, Washington, D.C.; and, Michelle Zavos, Washington, D.C. Ward will argue the case tomorrow. The case is Fisher Davenport et. al v. Little-Bowser.
Contacts: Kent Willis, Executive Director, ACLU of Virginia, 804-644-8022 Rebecca K. Glenberg, Legal Director, ACLU of Virginia, 804-644-8022