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Indiana same-sex couples win 5-year court battle over birth certificates

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Same-sex couples got the win and the state of Indiana lost at the highest court in the land Monday.

It’s the end to a fight that’s been going on for half a decade.

Same-sex couples had been trying to get on the birth certificate without having to jump through several expensive hoops.

“Five years is a long time to wait to finally breathe and not have that hanging over your head,” said Jackie Phillips-Stackman, one of the plaintiffs.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up the case, which means the earlier decision stands, which found Indiana’s law unconstitutional.

Plaintiffs in the case like the Phillips-Stackman family hope their fight helps countless families like theirs.

“It’s a nice early Christmas present,” Lisa Phillips-Stackman said.

The fight has been going on as long as Jackie and Lisa’s daughter Lola has been alive. Lola was conceived using an egg from Jackie but given birth by Lisa.

When Lola was born, Jackie was told to get on Lola’s birth certificate would require a process like becoming a stepparent — paperwork, a home study and several thousand dollars, even though she was biologically Lola’s mother.

“Same-sex couples should be treated the same as heterosexual couples when it comes to being on the children’s birth certificate,” Jackie said.

The Phillips-Stackman family was one of eight plaintiff couples on the lawsuit.

“We’re great today,” Lisa said.

“It’s a great day,” added Jackie.

Noell Allen and her wife, Crystal, were another named plaintiff couple.

“Amazing, it was really good news,” Noell said.

Noell and Crystal have a 10-year-old daughter named Elon. About five years ago, Crystal went into preterm labor at 19 weeks of pregnancy with twins. Doctors couldn’t save them.

After they had passed away, Noell found out, she couldn’t be on the birth certificate.

“It’s important to have a legal tie, not just a loving, spiritual bond to your children,” Noell said.

Without that legal tie, medical decisions, education decisions, inheritance and other benefits are in legal limbo.

It’s why Crystal went through that process a decade ago with Elon because Noell was the birth mother. There was little else they could do because Elon’s birth was years before the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage.

But with the lower court ruling years ago in their case, which the Supreme Court let stand with their lack of action, same-sex couples are treated the same as heterosexual ones.

“I’m glad that we went through this fight for not just my family but for all families that look like mine,” Noell said.

Perhaps, one day, her family might benefit too.

“I know that when the time comes, both of our names will be on the birth certificate. We will continue to share in the role of parenting our children,” she said.

The attorney general’s office declined to be interviewed Monday, but Solicitor General Tom Fisher released this statement: “We are disappointed the Court declined to take up the case.”

Meanwhile, one of the Supreme Court justices was already familiar with this case. Amy Coney Barrett was on the Court of Appeals when it affirmed the lower court ruling.