( Raleigh, NC November 15, 2016 ) Lambda Legal announced today it has reached a settlement with the state of North Carolina on behalf of Melissa and Meredith Weiss, a married lesbian couple denied accurate birth certificates listing both mothers as parents of their two sons. The State has agreed to amend the Weiss' sons' birth certificates to place both parents' names on them.
Moreover, in a victory for all North Carolina same-sex couples with children born after they got married, the State agreed to change its policies to enable those couples to get similarly accurate birth certificates listing both parents.
"This is a tremendous victory for the Weiss familyand for all North Carolina children born to same-sex couples before the state's discriminatory marriage ban was struck down, who will now enjoy the same protections as everyone else," said Beth Littrell, Senior Attorney for Lambda Legal. "This should have happened a long time ago. Every state should ensure that all families have access to the same rights and protections. Making sure all children born to married same-sex couples have accurate birth certificates is a critical place to start."
After several years together, former Chapel Hill residents Melissa and Meredith Weiss traveled to Ontario, Canada, in August, 2003, to get married. Because North Carolina refused to recognize their marriage, when the Weisses had their sons in 2006 and 2008, unlike children born to different-sex married couples, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services ( DHHS ) refused to issue a birth certificate listing both parents' names. The State refused to allow both women's names to be listed as parents on their children's birth certificates even after the Weisses secured court orders recognizing them as the parents of their sons.
On October 14, 2014, four days after federal court ushered marriage equality in North Carolina, Melissa and Meredith requested new birth certificates listing both women as the children's parents, providing DHHS with court orders and proof of their 2003 marriage. Unlike different-sex couples who are provided a new certificate with proof that the child was born after their marriage, the Weisses request went unanswered for more than a year. Lambda Legal filed this lawsuit on December 17, 2015. Finally, their children's birth certificates now accurately list Melissa and Meredith Weiss both as parents to their two sons.
"We are both thrilled and relieved," said Meredith and Melissa Weiss. "We just want our children to have the same respect, protections and treatment that every other child born to married parents receives. Today, our family and other families like ours can move forward."
"We hope that the state's decision to bring an end to this lawsuit by agreeing to provide equal treatment for same-sex couples and their children is a harbinger of a new direction for resolving, and avoiding, anti-LGBT discrimination." Littrell said. "We should not have had to file a federal lawsuit to get the Weiss family accurate birth certificates, and we should not have to be in court today suing so that transgender students, employees, and visitors can use the appropriate restrooms. North Carolina should do the right thing and repeal the anti-LGBT law H.B. 2."
Read the filing. www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/legal-docs/weiss_nc_20151217_complaint .
Lambda Legal Senior Attorney Beth Littrell is handling the case for Lambda Legal, alongside co-counsel, John Moye and Drew Kifner, from the law firm of Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP