A new mother called in to local Billings radio station (Hot 101.9) Tuesday morning to tell, Jason "Big J" Harris a sad story.
It should have been a joyful tale. The woman was the proud mother of a new baby and wanted the community to know all about it. So she sent in a birth announcement to the Billings Gazette. But when it was printed, only her name was there. The baby's other mother - her same sex partner- was not included
DJ Harris has a history of standing up against discrimination. He calls a spade a spade. So he made a call to see if the Gazette had printed just one mother's name on purpose or if it was simply a mistake. The unofficial response was that she may have put both women's names in under "mother" resulting in an error. Either way, only the woman who gave birth was listed on the birth announcement.
This is just one of the problems same sex couples in Montana face because their relationships are not legally recognized. Things that opposite sex couples take for granted, like birth announcements in the local newspaper, can be denied to same-sex couples. As long as the state doesn't offer legal protections for all families, discrimination can, and will, occur. Had this been an opposite sex couple, married or not, the Gazette would have automatically printed both parents' names.
Same sex couples are not afforded that luxury. In most cases, to be recognized as the birth parents, the birth mother's partner would have to apply for adoption rights to the child. This puts tremendous financial pressure on the family as well as a burden of going through legal proceedings.
Kelly and Denise, plaintiffs in the Donaldson Guggenheim case, know the hassles it takes to adopt a child in Montana. But it was important to them to safeguard their son's future in case something happened to one of them.
Not having your baby's birth announcement printed properly in the newspaper may not seem like a big deal to some people, but it's just one indignity on a long list of things denied same-sex couples. The larger problem is that this couple - and all loving, committed same-sex couples - need a way to have their relationships recognized by the State of Montana. They need protections for their family.
Fortunately one problem was solved for this couple. In a late evening development, an editor at the Billings Gazette assured Big J that they will reprint the birth announcement with both women listed as parents.