The state of Texas is facing not one but two likely lawsuits for failing to issue accurate vital records to same-sex couples in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges.
And an attorney from Lambda Legal says he hopes the state ends up “paying through the nose” for resisting the high court’s ruling in favor of same-sex marriage.
Forty days after the decision, Texas officials say they still haven’t decided whether to update birth and death certificates for same-sex couples.
Neel Lane (right), who represented same-sex couples in the federal case challenging Texas’ marriage ban, says he plans to file another lawsuit today (Wednesday) on behalf of John Stone-Hoskins (above right), who’s seeking an accurate death certificate for his late husband, James Stone (above left). Stone passed away in January after he and Stone-Hoskins married in New Mexico last year. Now, Stone-Hoskins is dying from cancer. The Texas Observer reports:
“He has submitted everything necessary to issue the new death certificate, but [the agency] has not agreed to do so,” Lane wrote in an email to the state last month. “Mr. Stone-Hoskins is on borrowed time — his doctors expect him to live another 45 to 60 days. As you probably know, such projections are unreliable, and he may die at any time.”
Chris Van Deusen, a spokesman for the Department of State Health Services, said in a statement last week that more than a month after the high court’s ruling, officials still hadn’t decided whether to update birth and death certificates.
“We are reviewing the Supreme Court decision to determine whether changes need to be made to vital records documents,” Van Deusen said. “This involves taking a broad look at a variety of forms and vital records. Our attorneys are working with the [attorney general’s] office on the analysis. We hope to finish the analysis in the coming weeks. Once we complete that analysis, we would make any necessary changes as soon as possible.”
Meanwhile, Lambda Legal’s Ken Upton Jr. (right) plans to file a lawsuit on behalf of same-sex couples who are seeking accurate birth certificates for their adopted children. Under current Texas law, supplemental birth certificates issued to adopted parents must contain the name of one man, the father, and one woman, the mother.
From the Observer:
“I don’t understand what they are thinking,” said Ken Upton Jr., senior counsel for the LGBT civil rights group Lambda Legal. “One of the cases consolidated before [the Supreme Court] was a birth certificate case and one was a death certificate case. How can they not think this was resolved?” …
“I hope the vital statistics people end up paying through the nose for this nonsense,” Upton said. “If they make us sue them, it is not going to be cheap for them.”