Jenny Buntemeyer and Jessica Aiken of Davenport, Iowa, met in 2008 and fell in love while serving in Iraq. Under Iowa law they are legally married and, since they wanted to start a family, Jessica became pregnant via in vitro fertilization.
On October 21, 2011, she gave birth to Brayden Bruce Buntemeyer. Sadly, Brayden died after his umbilical cord became wound around his neck.
When they were asked to fill out the Death Certificate, Jessica wrote her name in the box marked "Mother," while Jenny filled out the boxes marked “Father”--the only option on the form for a second parent.
This past January 12, 2012, the Iowa Department of Public Health [IDPH] issued them the death certificate on which Jenny's name and identifying information was erased.
Lambda Legal has now filed suit against IDPH on behalf of Jenny and Jessica Buntemeyer. saying:
“This is an egregious display of insensitivity and disregard for Iowa law, which states that the spousal presumption of parentage applies to children born to same-sex spouses in the same manner it applies to children of different-sex spouses. A different-sex married couple grieving a similar loss would receive a two-parent death certificate with no questions asked. Death certificates and other vital records like birth certificates document legal parentage, and not biology. To white out a mother’s name from her stillborn baby’s death certificate is cruel to a family that is already devastated.”
Just a week prior, in another Lambda Legal case [Gartner v. IDPH]a trial court affirmed that the spousal presumption of “legitimacy” applies equally to children born to married same-sex couples, and ruled that Iowa’s birth certificate statute must be interpreted in a gender-neutral way.
The IDPH is appealing that ruling.
If anyone questions why marriage equality should become law in the entire country, look no further than Jenny and Jessica's story. They are a legally married couple, who wished to be parents, and because of some antiquated form, and possibly because someone at the IDPH is an intolerant bigot, Jenny's not even mentioned on her own child's death certificate.
How is this even possible? In this country? In 2011?
Change.org has a petition asking the IDPH to stop erasing the names of same-sex parents; go HERE to sign. Go. Now.
via Lambda Legal