Jackie & Lauren
Jackie and Lauren Brettner have been in a committed relationship since 2011. Jackie works as an attorney in a New Orleans law firm. Lauren is a pediatric nurse at a New Orleans hospital.
Jackie and Lauren married on Valentine’s Day 2012, having obtained a marriage license and celebrated their marriage in New York, where same-sex marriages are valid.
In 2013, Jackie and Lauren welcomed their first child. Lauren carried the baby to term and gave birth to their daughter in April 2013. The couple informed the hospital that they were legally married and that both of them should be listed as parents of the child on the birth certificate. The hospital denied this request stating that the Louisiana State Registrar does not issue birth certificates identifying same-sex parents, despite being legally married.
Because their marriage is not recognized in Louisiana, Jackie and Lauren have also incurred additional expenses to protect their family that would otherwise be unnecessary. They have commissioned living wills, advanced directives and other documents to try to protect their family if tragedy were to strike.
They understand, however, that these documents do not afford them all the protections that automatically come with marriage, and the documents could be ignored or challenged. For example, Jackie, Lauren, and their baby recently traveled internationally and were questioned by federal security officials at the airport because they were unable to produce a birth certificate listing both of them as the parents of the baby.
“When we flew to Panama to show off our newborn to relatives, we were questioned by the passport control officials at the airport,” Jackie Brettner said. “No parent should be concerned about heightened scrutiny at security screenings at airports. The concern of being refused entry or exit with your own daughter is not something that should cloud every family trip we take.”
Like other married same-sex couples, “we have full federal rights but no state rights,” said Lauren. “We face problems repeatedly, just because the State of Louisiana refuses to name two parents on our daughter’s birth certificate,” said Lauren. “Additionally, Louisiana unreasonably burdens us with paying for what legal documents we can execute, but those documents still leave an uncertainty that bothers us as parents.”
MEET THE PLAINTIFFS: