(WOMENSENEWS)–A Washington couple is unable to get a birth certificate for their son, born in March, because they refuse to give him his father’s last name.
The couple, Margaret McGilvray and Dan Redmond, named their son Alexander Hanley Redmond McGilvray, but their application for the child’s birth certificate was denied by the District of Columbia Department of Health on the grounds that the boy’s name violates a regulation requiring that all children born in wedlock be given their father’s surname.
Urbane Bass III, the chief of vital records in the district’s Department of Health, issued the regulation in May 2000 as part of a set of guidelines clarifying how birth certificates are to be filled out. The regulations allow for children who don’t have fathers named on their birth certificates to take their mothers’ surnames, but does not allow it if their parents are a married couple.
Parents can obtain a court order to override the regulation and amend a birth certificate, but so far McGilvray and Redmond have had no luck.
“I thought this must be some law from 1890 or something that had never been taken off the books,” Redmond told the Washington Post. “So I wrote a very nice two-page letter, explained our circumstances and asked for a waiver. They said no.”
The parents are now suing the city for violating their constitutional rights to free speech and privacy and for discriminating against women.
Anthony Bullock, a spokesman for Mayor Anthony A. Williams, told the Post he thought the City Council and the mayor will likely consider an amendment to the provision. “My sense is that this regulation has no place in the 21st century, and probably not in the last half of the 20th,” Bullock said.