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Lesbians can both be listed on birth papers

NEWTON, N.J. (AP) — Both women in a lesbian couple can be listed as parents on the birth certificate of the baby they're expecting in May, a judge ruled.

State officials said it was the first time in the state that two women who were both physically tied to an unborn child had tried to make sure they were both listed on the birth certificate. One woman is carrying the child, and her partner provided the egg.

The ruling issued Tuesday by Family Court Judge James A. Farber means the unidentified women will share a financial obligation to the child, and if one parent dies, the other will have custody.

Melissa Brisman, the couple's lawyer, said the ruling was a "victory for reproductive rights," but she doubted it would have a major legal impact.

Few lesbian couples opt to conceive the way her clients did, Brisman said. Typically, when lesbian couples have a child together, the woman who delivers the baby is named as the mother on the birth certificate. The partner is often not genetically related to the child and must then adopt the child to gain parental rights. The court process can take months.

Brisman also noted that other judges are not required to follow Farber's decision.

The two women in the case have been together for seven years and live in northern New Jersey. They conceived through in vitro fertilization.