Names on Birth Certificate for [same sex] parents

When a same-sex couple have a child and both names appear on the BC does the order signify which one is the bio parent?

If I’m not mistaken, birth certificates are usually handled at the county level. Even if at the state level, it is surely not federal. My point is that each jurisdiction gets to make its own rules, and with so many jurisdictions there’s no simple answer to the question.

And with no simple answer, I would presume that there’s actually a very simple answer, namely: If the form doesn’t explicitly say so, then you can’t make any such presumptions.

Well, I would assume a birth certificate would only have the names of the biological mother and biological father if known.

You’d be wrong, at least in some cases. For example, if the child is the result of a donor egg, the birth mother is shown on the birth certificate even though the child’s biological mother is the donor. Similarly for the father in the case of sperm donation, in some cases.

Birth certificates are registered at the city or town level, using a standard form for that particular state.

Edited title to make subject clearer.


You’d assume wrong. At least in New York City, birth certificates, instead of “Mother’s name” and “Father’s name”, now say “Mother’s/Parent’s Name (M F)” and “Father’s/Parent’s name (M F)”.

You’d be wrong.

My cousin was adopted when just a couple days old, but his birth certificate has my aunt & uncle’s names on it. Neither of them are biological parents to him.

And this document is from the early 1950’s, so this issue is nothing new to county clerks.

Yes, as the last several postings have indicated, the birth certificate shows who the child’s legal parents are. Usually that’s the same as the child’s biological parents, but it may not be, as in the case of adoption or other circumstances.

Wrong, you would be.

I had a reply typed out about birth certificates but I re-read the OP and realized I completely missed the real question.

The question is that when both names are on the BC, is one listed as the bio parent?

Same sex couples get their names on the BC only in a few places in the country at the moment, so this assumes they live in one of those places and one of them is a biological parent. If Jane (F) has a baby and is married to Sally (F), does Jane get a little “b” next to her name to indicate she is the biological parent?

I have no idea, but my guess is no. Once a name goes on a birth certificate, they’re officially the parent, period. Once the name goes on the certificate, a step-dad adopting his wife’s child will officially be that child’s father and have the same rights as the mother. It’s surely the same for same sex couples.

Here’s an interesting California case exploring some of these issues. A lesbian couple used a donor egg procedure such that one of them (the article calls her “Ova”) donated the egg and the other (“Birtha”) carried the pregnancy.

They subsequently split, and the court ruled that Birtha was the only legal parent. The kicker was that when Ova donated her eggs, the hospital had her sign the standard set of egg-donor forms, by which the donor waives any claim at parental rights.

In Canada, in cases where one parent is a biological parent and the other one is not, I don’t believe that the order of names indicates that.

There was a ruling a few years back in Ontario in a case where a married lesbian couple had a child using sperm contributed by a male friend, and they all planned to raise the child together (IIRC). In that case, they were allowed to list all three names on the birth certificate.

Here’s some information about civil status questions for same-sex parents in Quebec. (However, this states that in Quebec, a child may not have more than 2 parents, and I believe that that has also either recently changed or a change is planned.)