Media Trail: January 31, 2020


Court rules for gay couple in Indiana birth certificate suit

The Journal & Courier reported a federal appeals court sided with a gay married couple who challenged Indiana’s birth records law, arguing that it discriminates against them and their children because birth certificates don’t account for same-sex spouses as parents.

The decision from the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Jan. 17 reaffirmed a lower court’s ruling in a 2015 case filed by Ashlee and Ruby Henderson that required the state to recognize the couple’s children as their own.

The Hendersons, of Lafayette, alleged that local and state health officials discriminated against them when the Tippecanoe County Health Department declined to put both of their names as parents on their son’s birth certificate in December 2014. The county at the time allowed only Ruby Henderson, the birth mother, to be listed as a parent.

The three-judge panel appeals court rejected the state’s appeal, upholding U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Walton Pratt’s 2016 ruling.

“The district court’s order requiring Indiana to recognize the children of these plaintiffs as legitimate children, born in wedlock, and to identify both wives in each union as parents, is affirmed,” the appeals court wrote in its 10-page ruling.

Ashlee Henderson said that she was surprised when she heard about the decision, which she has been waiting on since the case was argued in May 2017.

“My first reaction was such relief and shock,” said Henderson, who now also has a daughter. “After such a long wait, it was such an indescribable feeling to finally have answers. Good answers at that.”

The Indiana attorney general’s office is “disappointed” in the ruling and will consider next steps, spokeswoman Melissa Gustafson said.

The state could seek to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Karen Celestino-Horseman, Indianapolis attorney representing the Hendersons, praised the ruling.

“This one is just further affirmation of these families,” Celestino-Horseman said. “You’d think this would be settled. … But we’ll wait to see what the state does. Wait, again.”

Arizona bill would ban transgender girls, women from teams reports transgender girls and women would be barred from participating in sports on the team that aligns with their gender identity under a proposed Arizona law.

The proposal announced by GOP Rep. Nancy Barto on Jan. 24 is co-sponsored by 22 other Republican House members and is the latest on a growing list of more than a dozen states with bills that focus on transgender young people.

The Arizona legislation allows only biological women or girls to play on female teams and requires a doctor’s note to prove a person is female if their birth sex is disputed. It allows lawsuits by students who believe they’ve missed opportunities because a transgender person is on a school team.

The measure is intended to prevent female athletes from being forced to compete against biological males, Barto said in a statement. It would apply to K-12 schools, community colleges and state universities but only to female teams.

“When this is allowed, it discourages female participation in athletics and, worse, it can result in women and girls being denied crucial educational and financial opportunities,” Barto’s statement said.

Republicans make up the majority in the state House and Senate.

Similar legislation has been proposed in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, New Hampshire, Tennessee and Washington state, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Several national women’s rights and sports organizations are pushing back, saying in a letter distributed by the American Civil Liberties Union that barring transgender people from sports teams aligning with their gender identity often means they are “excluded from participating altogether.”

Hallmark media CEO leaves a month after same-sex ad backlash

ABC News reports the head of Hallmark’s media business is leaving the company after 11 years, just a month after its flagship Hallmark Channel faced an outcry over a decision to pull an ad with a lesbian couple kissing.

No reason was given for Bill Abbott’s departure, and no replacement was immediately named.

In a statement, Mike Perry, president and CEO of Hallmark Cards Inc., said that with immense competition from TV networks and streaming services, it is important for the company to find “relevant new ways to grow our business.”

Abbott was CEO of Crown Media Family Networks, a company controlled by Hallmark Cards. Crown Media’s flagship cable channel is The Hallmark Channel, known for family-friendly programming, particularly made-for-TV Christmas-themed movies.

In December, the Hallmark Channel’s decision to pull an ad featuring the same-sex couple led to an outcry online. The company later reversed the decision.

Crown Media also operates the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, Hallmark Drama networks, subscription streaming service Hallmark Movies Now and e-book publishing division Hallmark Publishing.

Reporting via Associated Press