DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) --- Iowa health officials said Monday they are appealing a Polk County court decision that orders the state to list both members of a same-sex marriage as the parents of a child who was born two years ago.

The January court ruling addressed children born to a lesbian mother who conceived through the use of an anonymous sperm donor. But it didn't address how cases of same-sex couples who conceive in other ways should be handled, and the Iowa Department of Public Health wants guidance about how to handle those cases, spokeswoman Polly Carver-Kimm said.

"IDPH is seeking further guidance from the Iowa Supreme Court regarding applying the presumption of paternity language currently in code to same-sex marriages," she said.

Heather and Melissa Gartner, of Des Moines, sued after the department listed only Heather as a parent, arguing that the move deprived their daughter of benefits of having two legal parents. Their lawyer, Sharon Malheiro, didn't return a telephone message Monday.

Attorney General Tom Miller's office filed a short notice with the court saying the agency "appeals to the Supreme Court of Iowa from the final ruling in this case on Jan. 4, 2012."

Carver-Kimm said the agency was merely seeking guidance on how to handle cases that are similar, but not precisely the same.

The Supreme Court has stirred controversy in the past dealing with gay rights issues. It issued a 2009 decision striking down a state law defining marriage as being between one man and one woman. That led to an outcry by conservatives that saw three members of the court voted out of office in the last election.

 

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