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Florida Updates Birth Certificate Policy

by John McDonald
Saturday Jan 21, 2017

Two years later, Florida's same-sex married couples finally have their family paperwork in order.

On Wednesday, the state announced it had updated its birth certificate procedure to reflect the legality of same-sex marriage. Going forward, gay and lesbian couples can now be listed as both spouses on their children's birth certificate.

"The LGBTQ community can now celebrate a long-awaited victory," said Hannah Willard, Public Policy Director for Equality Florida, in a news release. "Married same-sex couples deserve to be treated fairly and equally before the law in all ways, including in the recognition of our families. Thanks to years of hard work by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and our local attorneys, the State of Florida has agreed to our terms so that we can put this discrimination behind us."

On Aug. 13, 2015, two couples along with the Equality Florida Institute filed a lawsuit challenging Florida's refusal to issue birth certificates listing both same-sex married spouses as parents of their children. The plaintiffs were represented by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Orlando attorney Mary Meeks and Miami attorney Elizabeth Schwartz.

The decision allows married same-sex couples to equally navigate their children's daily needs such as healthcare options, education and enrolling in government programs.

"Now more than ever, it's imperative that our families have every protection available under the law," said Schwartz, in a news release. "As a Florida native, I'm grateful my home state has recognized the validity of our marriages and is willing to honor legal parents on this most essential of documents."

Under the terms of the settlement, the Department of Vital Statistics agrees to treat same-sex spouses the same way it treats different-sex spouses for purposes of birth certificates and will issue corrected birth certificates to married same-sex couples at no charge, including couples who were validly married in any other state at the time their children were born in Florida. The State also agreed to pay some attorneys' fees to the couple's' attorneys.

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