WI issues birth certificate recognizing same-sex parents, Madiso - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

WI issues birth certificate recognizing same-sex parents, Madison couple continues legal battle to receive theirs

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MADISON (WKOW)-- A Milwaukee same-sex couple has received a Wisconsin birth certificate that recognizes both women as legal guardians of their 1-year-old daughter Olivia. Family members say the letter sent by the State of Wisconsin Vital Records arrived late last week.

"We were just so happy, because it has been kind of a long journey for us," Milwaukee mother Kami Young says.

Young and her wife Karina Willes were married in December of 2013 in Minnesota. Their daughter was born in March of 2014. Young says after a yearlong wait, both mothers, birth mother Kami Young and marital mother Karina Willes, are now recognized as parents in the eyes of the state.

"Yes it's a document, but it's a legal document saying the state recognizes that she's (Willes) a parent," Young explains.

The American Civil Liberties Union says this birth certificate is just one of a handful that were sent out by the State of Wisconsin Vital Records office. Meanwhile, a same-sex couple in Madison is still waiting for theirs.

"We're extremely happy for that family. We still don't have ours, but we're happy for them, very happy for them," Madison mother Chelsea Torres says.

In the eyes of the state of Wisconsin, Torres says her 6-month-old son Asher only has one mom who is allowed to sign off on formal documents, make medical decisions and sign permission slips at daycare and school. However, in her eyes, her wife Jessamy Torres is just as much of a mother to Asher as she is.

"We are partners in this. He deserves to be treated like any other child born into a marriage," Torres says.

Attorneys for the family tell 27 News they are moving forward with a federal lawsuit that was filed back in May. They say this Milwaukee couple receiving a birth certificate for their child won't have much impact on their case.

"It's wonderful for them to not have to have the same kinds of worries that I know my clients have all the time," Torres says. "However, my clients still don't have their birth certificate. It's a sweet announcement, but it's bittersweet, because it reminds us of our own situation."

The family is moving forward with its federal lawsuit with a trial scheduled to take place in February of 2016. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services says it does not comment on pending litigation.



(WKOW) --- The American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin issued a release that the State of Wisconsin Vital Records office has corrected a birth certificate involving a same-sex couple.

Here is the release:

Milwaukee – In another step toward full equality for same-sex married couples, the State of Wisconsin Vital Records office has issued a corrected birth certificate that lists both Kami Young and Karina Willes as parents to their daughter, Olivia, who was born shortly after the ACLU of Wisconsin and the ACLU LGBT Project filed Wolf v. Walker, the case that brought marriage equality to Wisconsin. Kami and Karina, whose Minnesota marriage Wisconsin had refused to recognize, were among the plaintiff couples in Wolf.  When Olivia was born, the state issued a birth certificate that listed only Kami as a parent even though she and Karina made it clear that they were married and raising the child together.

Kami Young said, “Our daughter has two parents who love and adore her.  We are a team when it comes to the care of our child.  One of the main reasons we decided to be plaintiffs in the marriage lawsuit was to better protect our relationship with Olivia through official recognition that Karina and I are both her parents.  The birth certificate we received today listing both of our names as Olivia’s parents finally provides that recognition.”

Karina Willes, who received the corrected birth certificate today, added, “I am so relieved to have an official document that reflects the truth that I am Olivia’s parent.  Now I have proof of our relationship, so I can more easily put Olivia on my health insurance, consent to medical treatment for her, register her for school and do all the other things a parent can do.  And if something were to happen to me, I know Olivia has evidence of our relationship to use to receive my Social Security survivor’s benefits.”

Quarles & Brady attorneys Louis Klapp and Kristin Noel, along with lawyers from the ACLU, represented Kami and Karina in their efforts to secure an accurate birth certificate.  Attorney Klapp expressed satisfaction with the result: “Although it took longer than it should have, we are gratified the State has finally recognized that equality means equality.  The children of same-sex married couples need and deserve the same protections that children of different-sex married couples have. This is a big step in the right direction.”

Even with a birth certificate documenting parenthood, however, the ACLU strongly recommends that same-sex couples consider adoption or other legal steps to ensure that both parents’ relationship with the child is fully protected.  See our Questions & Answers at http://aclu-wi.org/story/marriage-and-parenting-same-sex-couples-wisconsin.

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