(WO) It looks like the Florida Department of Vital Statistics is taking a step toward making things right.
Although same-sex marriage has been legal in Florida since Jan. 6, 2015, the state has been dragging its feet when it comes to the rights of legally-married, same-sex parents to both appear on their children’s birth certificates.
There’s no official word from the state yet, but on May 9, Jacksonville attorney Carrington Madison Mead released an announcement stating that she spoke a representative in Vital Statistics who reported that for children born after Jan. 6, 2015, birth certificates can be immediately updated to include both parents’ names. Mead’s statement indicates that the certificates will still read “Mother” and “Father” until the state is able to update its system. Additionally, the department is still rolling out a way to correct birth certificates for children born to married couples before Jan. 6, according to Mead’s statement.
Jen West, who is raising two children with her wife, Tatiana Quiroga, called the state and successfully added Quiroga’s name to their son’s birth certificate. He was born March 1, 2016. However, they still plan to move forward with Quiroga’s adoption of their son, because they have travel planned for Alabama and North Carolina, states where the issue of same-sex parent birth certificate recognition is still under debate.
“It’s huge,” West says. “We’re finally getting recognized. It’s really frustrating because we’re still in the middle of an adoption, and we still have to do an adoption because other states have all these cases pending and don’t want to recognize birth certificates. While it’s huge for us, we still have to do the adoption.”
Quiroga has successfully adopted their first son, born in 2011.
Still, West says it’s an exciting step forward.
“It’s a big step for insurance, for hospitals and for recognition,” she says. “You want to be the parent when you go to the hospital. It’s progress. Progress is good.”
While Quiroga and West are going through with the adoption, Michael Morris, an Orlando attorney who frequently represents same-sex couples in adoptions, says for many people the Florida update will mean that a second-parent adoption isn’t necessary.
“Nobody else is claiming to be the father, they’re a married couple and no one would put their names on the birth certificate? That’s outright discrimination,” Morris says.
“Florida has a long history of presuming legitimacy of the child, that the child is the child of both parents in the marriage,” he adds, stating that the state’s initial refusal to print both parents’ names on birth certificates “flew in the face of that.”
The Florida Department of Vital Statistics has not yet returned Watermark’s request for an interview, but West says the representative she spoke to told her the Department created a task force to solve the problem.
In August, three lesbian couples filed a lawsuit fighting to have both their names printed.