Senate panel takes sides on birth certificate issue

Posted on 05 Jun 2009 at 10:57am
By Associated Press

Measure would have no impact on federal case now in courts

BATON ROUGE, La. — A Senate panel approved a bill taking sides in a pending federal court case, voting that Louisiana should not be forced to provide a birth certificate listing a same-sex couple from another state as a child’s parents.

The bill by Rep. Jonathan Perry, R-Abbeville, seeks to expand an existing law that allows only a single person or a married couple to adopt a child. That law triggered a lawsuit from two gay men who won approval to adopt a child in a New York court. The Louisiana Office of Vital Records refused to issue a birth certificate listing the two men’s names as parents of the Louisiana-born child.

A federal district judge has ruled that Louisiana must put the men’s names on the boy’s birth certificate. The state Attorney General’s office is appealing.

Passage of Perry’s bill would not affect the federal suit, but it drew opposition from gay rights groups who consider it discriminatory.

"It’s really just not cool anymore in this country to be discriminatory against gay people," said John Hill, a consultant for the New Orleans-based Forum for Equality.

Kyle Duncan, the state Justice Department lawyer handling the federal appeal, sought to downplay the dispute and presented the matter as a question of federalism: the right of states to have laws that might conflict with another state’s.

"Louisiana has its policies, and good reasons for those policies," Duncan said. "If people want to change them, they are free to."

The Senate’s health committee approved the bill with a 4-2 vote. It moves to the Senate floor for further debate.

On the Net: House Bill 60 can be viewed at http://legis.state.la.us/

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