HENDERSON et al v. ADAMS, et al.
ENTRY On Defendant's Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment - For the reasons discussed above, the State Defendant's Motion to Amend Judgment (Filing No. 119 ), seeking to clarify and modify the Court declaratory judgment and permanent injunction, is granted in part and denied in part. (See Entry.) Signed by Judge Tanya Walton Pratt on 12/30/2016.(JLS)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
ASHLEE HENDERSON and
RUBY HENDERSON a married couple, and
L.W.C.H. by his parent and next friend Ruby
Henderson, et al.,
DR. JEROME ADAMS in his official capacity
as Indiana State Health Commissioner, et al.,
) Case No. 1:15-cv-00220-TWP-MJD
ENTRY ON DEFENDANT’S MOTION
TO ALTER OR AMEND JUDGMENT
This matter is before the Court on a Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment (“Motion to
Amend Judgment”) filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) by Defendant Dr.
Jerome Adams in his official capacity as the Indiana State Health Commissioner (“State
Defendant”) (Filing No. 119). The Plaintiffs in this case are a number of female, same-sex married
couples and their children whose birth certificates list only the birth mother as a parent with no
second parent. The Plaintiffs initiated this lawsuit, seeking injunctive relief to list both the birth
mother and her same-sex spouse on their children’s birth certificate and to have their children
recognized as children born in wedlock. They also sought a declaratory judgment that Indiana
Code §§ 31-9-2-15, 31-9-2-16, and 31-14-7-1 violate the Equal Protection and Due Process
Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Following cross-motions for summary judgment, the Court granted the County
Defendant’s motion for summary judgment, granted the Plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment
against the State Defendant, and denied the State Defendant’s motion for summary judgment
(Filing No. 116). The Court entered declaratory relief and a permanent injunction in favor of the
Plaintiffs as well as a Rule 58 final judgment (Filing No. 117; Filing No. 118). The State Defendant
then filed its Motion to Amend Judgment, asking the Court to clarify aspects of the declaratory
relief and permanent injunction and to remove any declaration or injunction that the children are
“born in wedlock”, as defined in the Wedlock Statutes, Indiana Code §§ 31-9-2-15 and 31-9-2-16
(Filing No. 119 at 1). For the following reasons, the State Defendant’s Motion to Amend Judgment
is granted in part and denied in part.
Plaintiffs Ashlee Henderson, Ruby Henderson, L.W.C.H., Nicole Singley, Jennifer
Singley, H.S., Elizabeth Bush-Sawyer, Tonya Bush-Sawyer, I.J.B-S, Cathy Bannick, Lyndsey
Bannick, H.N.B., Nikkole McKinley-Barrett, Donnica Barrett, G.R.M.B., Calle Janson, Sarah
Janson, F.G.J., Jackie Phillips-Stackman, Lisa Phillips-Stackman, L.J.P-S, Noell Allen, and
Crystal Allen (collectively “Plaintiffs”) are female, same-sex married couples and their children
whose birth certificates list only the birth mother as a parent with no second parent.
Plaintiffs Elizabeth and Tonya Bush-Sawyer were married in 2010 in Washington, D.C.
They artificially conceived I.J.B-S, who was born on January 10, 2014. When I.J.B-S was born,
Elizabeth, the birth mother, completed the Indiana Birth Worksheet and provided Tonya’s
information for all the questions that asked about the father of the child. After returning home from
the hospital with I.J.B-S, the couple received a birth confirmation letter that listed both women as
the parents of I.J.B-S and that listed the child’s name as a hyphenated version of both their last
names. In March 2014, Elizabeth went to the Marion County Health Department to obtain a birth
certificate for I.J.B-S. At the health department, she was told there was something wrong, and she
would need to return the next day. When she returned, Elizabeth was presented with a birth
certificate that listed her as the only parent of I.J.B-S, and the child’s name had been changed from
I.J.B-S to I.J.B. Shortly thereafter, Elizabeth and Tonya received a new social security card for
I.J.B-S, which listed the name as I.J.B.
Because of this incident, Tonya sought a stepparent adoption, which required her to
undergo fingerprinting and a criminal background check in addition to submitting her driving
record, her financial profile, and the veterinary records for any pet living in the home. A home
study was required, which examines the relationship history of Elizabeth and Tonya, requires them
to write an autobiography and to discuss their parenting philosophy, and requires them to open
their home for inspection. The cost for their stepparent adoption was approximately $4,200.00.
This same costly and time-consuming adoption process is not required of opposite-sex married
couples who artificially conceive a child. Instead, the non-biological father who is married to the
birth mother is listed on the birth certificate and recognized as the child’s father.
Plaintiffs Ashlee and Ruby Henderson were married on November 11, 2014, in Tippecanoe
County, Indiana. They had been together as a couple for over eight years prior to their marriage,
and they decided that they wanted a child in their family. After the couple’s artificial conception
of L.W.C.H., the Indiana statute prohibiting same-sex marriage was declared unconstitutional, so
Ashlee and Ruby married.
During the week of November 2, 2014, the couple contacted IU Health Arnett Hospital,
where L.W.C.H. would be born, to ask if both spouses would be listed on the birth certificate as
parents of L.W.C.H. after the couple was married. They were told to contact the Tippecanoe
County Health Department, which they did the same day. They were informed that Ashlee would
not be listed on the birth certificate as a parent of L.W.C.H. without a court order.
On December 22, 2014, L.W.C.H. was born at IU Health Arnett Hospital in Lafayette,
Indiana. After the child’s birth, Ruby was asked to complete the Indiana Birth Worksheet. The
couple revised each question asking for information regarding the father of the child by replacing
the term “father” with the term “Mother #2.” All information provided regarding “Mother #2”
related to Ashlee, the legal spouse of Ruby who was the birth mother. On January 22, 2015, the
Tippecanoe County Health Department issued L.W.C.H.’s birth certificate, which noted only Ruby
Henderson as a parent.
The other Plaintiff female, same-sex married couples have had similar experiences as
Elizabeth and Tonya Bush-Sawyer and Ashlee and Ruby Henderson and their children. Only the
birth mother has been recognized as a parent of the couples’ children, and only the birth mother’s
name has appeared on the birth certificate of the child. Because of this result, the Plaintiffs filed
this action and requested declaratory and injunctive relief. They asked the Court to direct the State
Defendant to recognize both Plaintiff spouses as a parent of their children and to list both Plaintiff
spouses as a parent on their children’s birth certificate. They also asked the Court for a declaration
that Indiana Code §§ 31-9-2-15, 31-9-2-16, and 31-14-7-1 violate the Equal Protection and Due
Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment.
The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment on the Plaintiffs’ claims, and the
Court granted the County Defendant’s motion, granted the Plaintiffs’ motion against the State
Defendant, and denied the State Defendant’s motion (Filing No. 116). The Court determined that
the challenged statutes and the State Defendant’s implementation of the statutes through the
Indiana Birth Worksheet resulted in the State’s discriminatory treatment of female, same-sex
married couples when creating and issuing birth certificates, thereby violating the Equal Protection
Clause. The Court further determined that the Plaintiffs’ due process rights were violated.
The Court entered a permanent injunction enjoining the State Defendant (1) from enforcing
Indiana Code §§ 31-9-2-15, 31-9-2-16, and 31-14-7-1 in a manner that prevents the presumption
of parenthood to be granted to female, same-sex spouses of birth mothers; (2) to recognize children
born to a birth mother who is legally married to a same-sex spouse as a child born in wedlock; (3)
to recognize the Plaintiff children in this matter as a child born in wedlock; and (4) to recognize
the Plaintiff spouses in this matter as a parent to their respective Plaintiff child and to identify both
Plaintiff spouses as parents on their respective Plaintiff child’s birth certificate (Filing No. 117).
The State Defendant filed its Motion to Amend Judgment, seeking clarification and modification
of the declaratory judgment and permanent injunction.
A motion to alter or amend a judgment under Rule 59(e) “must be filed no later than 28
days after the entry of the judgment.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e). The purpose of a motion to alter or
amend a judgment under Rule 59(e) is to ask the Court to reconsider matters “properly
encompassed in a decision on the merits.” Osterneck v. Ernst & Whinney, 489 U.S. 169, 174
(1989). “A Rule 59(e) motion will be successful only where the movant clearly establishes: (1)
that the court committed a manifest error of law or fact, or (2) that newly discovered evidence
precluded entry of judgment.” Cincinnati Life Ins. Co. v. Beyrer, 722 F.3d 939, 954 (7th Cir. 2013)
(citation and quotation marks omitted). Relief pursuant to a Rule 59(e) motion to alter or amend is
an “extraordinary remed[y] reserved for the exceptional case.” Foster v. DeLuca, 545 F.3d 582,
584 (7th Cir. 2008). A Rule 59(e) motion may be used “to draw the district court’s attention to a
manifest error of law or fact or to newly discovered evidence.” United States v. Resnick, 594 F.3d
562, 568 (7th Cir. 2010). A manifest error “is not demonstrated by the disappointment of the losing
party. It is the wholesale disregard, misapplication, or failure to recognize controlling precedent.”
Oto v. Metro. Life Ins. Co., 224 F.3d 601, 606 (7th Cir. 2000) (citation and quotation marks
omitted). Furthermore, “a Rule 59(e) motion is not an opportunity to relitigate motions or present
arguments, issues, or facts that could and should have been presented earlier.” Brownstone Publ’g,
LLC v. AT&T, Inc., 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25485, at *7 (S.D. Ind. Mar. 24, 2009).
The State Defendant asks the Court to modify and clarify the declaratory judgment and
permanent injunction. First, it asserts that the Court lacks jurisdiction to enter a declaration or
injunction governing enforcement of Indiana Code §§ 31-9-2-15 and 31-9-2-16, concerning
whether children are “born in wedlock” or “born out of wedlock.” It asks the Court to remove any
declaration or injunction directed at these two statutes. The State Defendant argues that the
Plaintiffs lack Article III standing to challenge the statutes because the statutes only apply to
adoption proceedings, and thus, the Plaintiffs are not injured by the statutes because their alleged
injuries do not arise within the adoption context. The State Defendant asserts the challenged
statutes simply have no relevance to the Plaintiffs; therefore, they have no standing, resulting in a
lack of jurisdiction in this Court.
In one cursory paragraph in its opening summary judgment brief, the State Defendant
alleged that the Plaintiffs lack standing to challenge the statutes (see Filing No. 85 at 22). Then, in
three pages of its reply brief, the State Defendant more fully addressed its standing argument
(Filing No. 108 at 9–12). The State Defendant now again advances this same argument that the
Plaintiffs lack standing to challenge the statutes because the statutes only apply to adoption
proceedings, and thus, the Plaintiffs are not injured by the statutes. However, the State Defendant
has failed to point out a manifest error of law or fact. Furthermore, a Rule 59(e) motion is not an
opportunity to relitigate motions.
In the Court’s summary judgment order, the Court explained that it was convinced by the
evidence and argument that the State’s regulatory system for creating and issuing birth certificates
in the State of Indiana is dictated and implemented by the State Defendant, and thus, the real injury
to the Plaintiffs came from the State Defendant’s implementation of the statutes (Filing No. 116 at
15). The Court also addressed the void that Indiana’s statutory framework has created that has led
to the State’s discriminatory conduct when completing the Indiana Birth Worksheet and creating
and issuing birth certificates (Filing No. 116 at 22).
Because the State Defendant has failed to point out a manifest error of law or fact and
seems to simply relitigate its argument from its summary judgment reply brief, the Court DENIES
the Motion to Amend Judgment regarding the request to remove any declaration or injunction
directed at Indiana Code §§ 31-9-2-15 and 31-9-2-16.
Next, the State Defendant asks the Court to clarify the declaratory judgment regarding the
constitutionality of the statutes, whether they are unconstitutional facially or as applied. The Court
GRANTS the State Defendant’s request to clarify the judgment, not to modify the judgment but
to simply provide clarification. As discussed throughout the Court’s summary judgment Order, the
constitutionality of the challenged statutes were analyzed in the context of the “benefits being
afforded to female, same-sex married couples,” “applying the same rights to female, same-sex
married couples,” “applying the statutes,” “application of the statutes,” and “implementation of
the statutes.” (See Filing No. 116.) The Court’s declaratory judgment that Indiana Code §§ 31-92-15, 31-9-2-16, and 31-14-7-1 violate the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses is a
declaration of unconstitutionality as applied to female, same-sex married couples who have
children during their marriage.
The State Defendant also asks the Court to clarify the permanent injunction regarding
whether it applies to wives of all birth mothers or only to wives of birth mothers who conceived
through artificial insemination by an anonymous donor. Again, the Court GRANTS the State
Defendant’s request to clarify the judgment, not to modify the judgment but to simply provide
clarification. The State Defendant seems to advance new argument to apply further limitations to
the Court’s already-issued permanent injunction. Again, “a Rule 59(e) motion is not an opportunity
to relitigate motions or present arguments, issues, or facts that could and should have been
presented earlier.” Brownstone Publ’g, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25485, at *7. Nowhere in the
Court’s Orders were “anonymous donors” discussed or considered. The Court’s permanent
injunction provides relief to “female, same-sex spouses of birth mothers” and “children born to a
birth mother who is married to a same-sex spouse.” (Filing No. 117 at 1.) The Order means what
it says and says what it means. It applies to female, same-sex spouses of birth mothers and children
born to a birth mother who is married to a same-sex spouse. It does not apply additional limitations
as the State Defendant questions.
Finally, the State Defendant asks the Court to clarify the permanent injunction regarding
whether the presumption of parenthood is conclusive or rebuttable. The Court GRANTS the State
Defendant’s request to clarify the judgment. The State Defendant notes that “[t]he Court appears
to intend to give wives of birth mothers comparable rights to husbands of birth mothers.” (Filing
No. 120 at 11.) The State Defendant’s observation is correct. The Court’s Orders did not modify
or limit the rebuttable nature of the presumption of parenthood. Thus, the same methods for
rebutting the presumption of parenthood of the husband of a birth mother are available for rebutting
the presumption of parenthood of the wife of a birth mother.
For the reasons discussed above, the State Defendant’s Motion to Amend Judgment (Filing
No. 119), seeking to clarify and modify the Court’s declaratory judgment and permanent
injunction, is granted in part and denied in part.
AUSTIN & JONES, PC
Lara K. Langeneckert
OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
Richard A. Mann
RICHARD A. MANN, PC
Thomas M. Fisher
OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
Megan L. Gehring
RICHARD A. MANN, PC
Nikki G. Ashmore
OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
Raymond L. Faust
NORRIS CHOPLIN & SCHROEDER LLP
Betsy M. Isenberg
OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
William R. Groth
FILLENWARTH DENNERLINE GROTH &
Anna M. Konradi
FAEGRE BAKER DANIELS LLP
Douglas Joseph Masson
HOFFMAN LUHMAN & MASSON PC
Anne Kramer Ricchiuto
FAEGRE BAKER DANIELS LLP
J. Grant Tucker
JONES PATTERSON BOLL & TUCKER
Anthony Scott Chinn
FAEGRE BAKER DANIELS LLP
Michael James Wright
WRIGHT SHAGLEY & LOWERY, PC
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