Them Before Us filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court making one thing abundantly clear: Birth Certificates Exist for Kids, Not Adults.

Box vs Henderson is an Indiana case arguing the same-sex spouse of a biological parent should be listed on a child’s first and primary identifying document. Even though in 100% of those cases, the spouse listed will not be biologically related. That’s a problem because children have a natural right to both their mother and father.

What did we tell the highest court in the land? That listing “intended” rather than “biological” parents on a child’s birth certificate can:

  • lead to incomplete medical history for kids
  • contribute to an identity crisis
  • complicate dating relationships
  • place children in households with higher rates of abuse
  • make children feel the State has overlooked their rights

While our amicus brief makes a strong legal case, the power of this brief is in the voice of the children we quote. Voices like these:

  • Gregory Loy, conceived through an anonymous sperm donor has a birth certificate which lists his mother’s husband as his father, a man he believed to be his biological father for the first three decades of his life. When the truth came out, the revelation shattered him. To deal with the stress, he “went through a period of alcohol substance abuse.” In his own words, “[i]t nearly cost me my career and my family. The irony … is that had I known who my biological father was … I would have known that there was a family history of alcohol dependency. … I was denied critical medical information because I didn’t even know it existed.”
  • Donor conceived Zave Fors could have up to a thousand half-siblings. “I went to high school with a half-brother and didn’t even know until years later. Due to the quantity of siblings and the fact that many donor-conceived people aren’t aware that they’re donor-conceived, I have to worry about accidental incest. Dating is hard enough without having to genetically screen all my Tinder matches.”
  • Elizabeth Howard was conceived using an anonymous sperm donor. Her birth certificate lists her “social father” as her father. However, “[h]e was convicted of child sex abuse against my brother and other children and went to prison when I was 13. … My ‘social father’ who is a convicted pedophile is listed on my birth certificate and that pains me greatly.”
  • Ben Smith was raised by his biological mother and her wife, both of whom were listed on his birth certificate. He notes that the fact “[t]hat my mother’s wife was able to be listed as my second parent allowed my mother and her wife to feel affirmed in their perspective … that my father does not matter, that he doesn’t need to take a presence in my life”—that having two moms could eliminate the need for a dad… “So at the end of the day, I’m left feeling there’s a big disconnect between what matters and what is actually celebrated, and the distortion of the birth certificate enabled this to happen.”

In summary? A child’s birth certificate is not a second marriage license. It doesn’t exist to validate adult emotion, desire or intentions. Birth certificates exist for children. And the State should prioritize their rights.

If you want to become a children’s rights expert, check out the new book Them Before Us: Why we need a global children’s rights movement. It will arm you with child-centric responses on topics ranging from marriage, divorce, reproductive technologies, cohabitation, polygamy, surrogacy, adoption and same-sex parentingBecome the adult who should have advocated for you as a child.

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This book pairs gold-standard research with hundreds of stories from children, many of which have never been told before.

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