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Petition seeks Wisconsin birth certificate form changes

Eau Claire resident Jennifer Engedal started the petition after learning an LGBTQ couple she’s...
Eau Claire resident Jennifer Engedal started the petition after learning an LGBTQ couple she’s friends with had issues filling out forms after their child was born.(WEAU)
Published: Feb. 8, 2021 at 6:39 PM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - An online petition is urging Wisconsin state lawmakers to change laws making birth certificate forms gender-neutral.

Eau Claire resident Jennifer Engedal started the petition after learning an LGBTQ couple she’s friends with had issues filling out forms after their child was born.

In 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled states’ birth certificates must recognize married same-sex couples. Currently, Wisconsin birth certificates list parents as “mother” and “father.” Couples can fill out a form changing that listing to “parents.” However, on the Mother’s Birth Certificate Worksheet, which every mother fills out to let the state know a new baby has been born, lists spots for only “mother” and “husband.”

“She had done a lot of research ahead of time so she was able to go a back way to get her wife added onto that birth certificate properly. However, for a while her wife was listed as ‘husband/dad,’” Engedal said about her friend.

She started the petition on Change.org.

“We are all fighting for equality, especially in 2021,” Engedal said. “That’s something that just needs to change.”

“It’s a reminder that we are second-class citizens,” said Erin Kaspar-Frett.

Kaspar-Frett and her wife had their four kids before 2017. After having one in Wisconsin, she had her other kids in Minnesota so both parents could be listed on the birth certificate.

As a Certified Professional Midwife, however, she still deals with birth certificate issues regularly.

She said “husband” can be interpreted as a second “parent” but many families are fearful and may resort to a formal adoption requiring the second parent legally adopts the second child to ensure their parental rights.

“And that’s what they’re advised to do by their lawyers, to go through another process just to be sure,” Kasper-Frett said.

She also has a message for lawmakers as they consider changing the law.

“This adds protection and doesn’t harm anyone,” she said. “Why wouldn’t we do it?”

State lawmakers introduced a bill during the 2019-2020 legislative session, which would have changed the law. It did not receive a hearing.

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