Sunday, March 26, 2017

Islamaphobia or Big Brother Run Amok?

The Georgia Department of Public Health has refused to issue an infant a birth certificate with the last name the couple chose for their daughter: Allah.   State officials say the child's name — ZalyKha Graceful Lorraina Allah — does not fit the naming conventions set up by state law. They say that ZalyKha's last name should either be Handy (mother's last name), Walk (father's last name) or a combination of the two.

The ACLU of Georgia has filed suit on behalf of the baby's parents, who say they can't get a Social Security number for their daughter because they don't have a birth certificate. They also anticipate problems with access to health care, schools and travel. Already, they said, they had to cancel a trip to Mexico.  "We have to make sure that the state isn't overstepping their boundaries," Walk said. "It is just plainly unfair and a violation of our rights."

ACLU of Georgia Executive Director Andrea Young said the state's decision is an example of government overreach and a violation of the First and 14th amendments. In addition, Handy and Walk have a three-year-old son who was given a birth certificate for his name, Masterful Allah, with no problem.  

Carlton F.W. Larson, a law professor at the University of California, Davis, has written extensively about parental rights to name their children.  "Naming your child is an expressive action," Larson said. "And the idea that you get to name your child, and not the state, is a fundamental right. The state would need to have a compelling reason for rejecting a name, and I don't see it. I would hope that (Handy and Walk) would win this case."

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