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Maryland to issue birth certificates naming two married moms as parents

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene on Thursday issued a letter to state birth registrars announcing a procedure change allowing a woman to be named as a parent on the Maryland birth certificate of the child born to her same-sex married spouse, without the necessity of a court order.

Lambda Legal applauds this advance for Maryland children.

"The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and its Division of Vital Records now gives critical protection to Maryland children born to two married women with its new procedure for issuing birth certificates naming both mothers as parents. We commend the State's advance to protect children," said Susan Sommer, director of constitutional litigation at Lambda Legal.

"This procedure change follows the 2010 opinion of Attorney General Douglas Gansler confirming that, under longstanding Maryland law, out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples receive legal respect and should be treated like any other marriage. Lambda Legal has advocated with the government for this important step for Maryland children, who now can count on having both their moms listed on their birth certificates from their first days in the world," she said.

"Of course, these families should still protect their children with formal adoptions by the non-biological parent, but now children will start their lives with the added security of a birth certificate accurately describing their families," Sommer said.

"The reality is that thousands of children are being reared in Maryland by same-sex couples. Marriage in turn brings thousands of protections to families with children. Same-sex couples should not have to leave their state and marry elsewhere to get critical protections for their children. We urge the Maryland legislature to pass the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act to make Maryland families that much more secure."

This week, Sommer provided testimony to the Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee in support of the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, which would allow same-sex couples to marry in Maryland. During her testimony, Sommer described the experiences of three same-sex couples, Lambda Legal clients, whose out-of-state marriages should be recognized as a matter of Maryland law, but who still face challenges to receiving the full benefits and protections of marriage.

Read the letter to state birth registrars.

Read the birth certificate form for same-sex couples.