Judge removes lesbian’s name from child’s birth certificate in divorce dispute

An Oklahoma woman is fighting in court to reverse a judge’s decision to remove her name from her child’s birth certificate, in a case that could set a precedent for same-sex couples to divorce.

The case revolves around the controversial divorce between Kris Williams and Rebekah Wilson, a lesbian couple who used a sperm donor to have a child. Williams is seeking to overturn a judge’s decision that removed her from her son’s birth certificate because she was the “non-pregnant” caretaker and had not adopted the child. The case has uncovered an unexpected legal gray area, despite same-sex marriage being legal in the US since 2015.

The couple married in the summer of 2019 and had a son later that year, with Wilson carrying the child via artificial insemination, KFOR reports. According to the broadcaster, Williams cut the umbilical cord of her son, who was named after a family member at her side.

But after the couple divorced, Wilson asked a court to remove Williams from the birth certificate. Earlier this year, Judge Lynne McGuire granted the motion, ruling that Williams “failed to initiate an appeal establishing parental rights.”

birth certificate
An Oklahoma woman is fighting to get her name back on her child’s birth certificate after it was removed during her divorce with her wife. The result could affect other couples.
Comstock/Getty Images

“My body started shaking right away,” Williams recalled of her reaction to The 19th News. “I mean the sheer terror of being erased as a queer person.”

The judge ruled that Williams’ name on the birth certificate should be replaced with the name of the sperm donor who is petitioning the court for custody of the child, reports LGBTQ News. Williams has filed a motion asking the court to reconsider the motion, which will not be heard until June 1.

During the messy divorce, Wilson accused Williams of assaulting her (which Williams denies), according to The 19th News. A court granted Wilson an emergency victim protection order against Williams in December, but the judge did not cite abuse allegations in her decision to remove her name from the birth certificate.

Hanna Roberts, an attorney with the Oklahoma ACLU, told The 19th News her organization plans to get involved in the case because of the potential implications if it goes to an appeals court.

“The concern is if Kris loses it will set a pretty bad precedent in the state of Oklahoma and possibly beyond,” Roberts told the news outlet. “I think this is just the first time there has been such an adverse judgment that runs counter to the same protections. It’s drawn attention because same-sex couples are getting divorced all the time.”

Although same-sex marriage was legalized by the US Supreme Court seven years ago, rulings by the Oklahoma Supreme Court have complicated divorce proceedings for gay and lesbian couples, reports LGBTQ Nation.

“I want people to know that it’s not just affecting the LGBTQ community,” Williams told KFOR. “We have other families who cannot have biological children and are using donors as a means to have families. I hate that we have to take an extra step to solidify our space so that we are legally connected to our children. “

Wilson and her attorney have declined to comment to the media.

news week has reached out to Williams and Wilson’s attorneys for comment. Judge removes lesbian’s name from child’s birth certificate in divorce dispute

Rick Schindler

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