On March 23, 2017, the ACLU of Georgia, along with cooperating counsel Emmet Bondurant and Michael Baumrind of Bondurant, Mixson & Elmore, LLP, filed a Writ of Mandamus on behalf of Elizabeth Handy and Bilal Walk and against Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, in her capacity as Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health, and Ms. Donna L. Moore, in her capacity as the State Registrar and Director of the State Office of Vital Records, asking the court to compel these government officials to comply with their mandatory legal duties under O.C.G.A. § 31-10-9(e)(5) to issue a birth certificate to Elizabeth and Bilal’s infant daughter with the surname designated by Elizabeth and Bilal.
In April of 2016, Elizabeth and Bilal executed an Acknowledgment of Paternity as required by the State and designated the name of their daughter, ZalyKha Graceful Lorraina Allah, to be recorded on her birth certificated. Defendants’ refusal to issue the birth certificate as requested had prevented Elizabeth and Bilal from obtaining a Social Security number for their daughter, prevented them from obtaining medical coverage under Medicaid, and prevented them from obtaining food stamps through the SNAP program. Without a birth certificate, Elizabeth and Bilal would have been unable to enroll their daughter in public school, and they fear that their daughter’s identity as a U.S. citizen will be questioned.
The civil liberties issues implicated in this litigation were: free speech, equal protection, and the right to raise one’s child.
On April 19, 2017, the ACLU of Georgia filed a motion to dismiss its suit, after the Georgia Department of Public Health reversed course and issued a birth certificate to ACLU clients Elizabeth Handy and Bilal Walk with the name they designated for their daughter.