Same-sex couples are suing the state of Indiana for not including both partners’ names on their children’s birth certificates. The case appeared before the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, where possible Trump SCOTUS nominee Judge Diane Sykes made some no-nonsense, scientifically factual remarks.
And naturally, people were offended.
Lesbian couple Ashlee and Ruby Henderson of Lafayette, Ind., launched the suit in 2015 and were later joined by eight other same-sex couples, including Lisa and Jackie Phillips-Stackman of Indianapolis. They are challenging the state’s Parenthood Status policy, which requires that a parent have either a biological relationship to a child or go through a formal adoption process in order for their name to appear on that child’s birth certificate.
Judge Diane Sykes
A federal court in Indiana has already ruled in favor of the couples. Citing the landmark Supreme Court case Obergefell v. Hodges, the court held the Indiana statute created an “unequal” condition for same-sex couples who have children through sperm donation, like the Phillips-Stackmans.
In oral arguments on Monday, Judge Sykes dared to state the obvious: that a child can only biologically have one mother and one father.
“You can’t overcome biology,” she said. “If the state defines parenthood by virtue of biology, no argument under the Equal Protection Clause…can overcome that.” She went on to say that any redefinition of “parenthood” was a policy question for the legislature to take up and not the courts.
Yesterday, the Indianapolis Star thought Judge Sykes’ basic understanding of the separation of powers and how babies are made was worthy of a headline. National outlets like USA today and an LGBT rights website followed suit.
You can listen to the entirety of the oral arguments here.