Baby Steps

Brooke Burgess

A day after their daughter’s birth, and in the midst of a postpartum medical crisis, CTE teacher Amanda Torbett and her partner Amanda Peterson began a battle against Lawrence Memorial Hospital, fighting to put Torbett’s name on her child’s birth certificate.

While Torbett and Peterson are not married, having a baby was a step that they took together. The couple even decided to give the baby Torbett’s last name. 

“This wasn’t an individual decision; we both took very active roles in the process and parent equally,” Torbett said. 

Without her name on the birth certificate, Torbett has no legal parental rights or responsibility. This poses a threat to their family in an emergency situation. Torbett stresses not only the principle of importance, but also the necessity and practicality of being recognized as a parent. 

“If something were to happen to my partner or me, we want to make sure the other parent is absolutely the legal guardian,” Torbett said. 

After a call from LMH while on the way home from the hospital informing her that the birth certificate of her baby could not be issued with her name on it, Torbett contacted her attorney David Brown. 

The couple was represented by Brown to handle the case against the Kansas Department of Vital Statistics, the office that tracks births in the state. Judge Sally Pokorny issued the ruling that both Peterson and Torbett would be legally recognized as the mother of their child. 

Starting a family as a same-sex couple comes with many challenges, and this landmark case will help many Kansas families  in the future. 

“My hope is that our case paves the way for other LGBTQIA couples across the state… Baby steps (pun intended),” Torbett said. 

The ruling was not only a success for Torbett and her family, but for many other families in Kansas experiencing or who may experience similar discrimination.