ATLANTA: The US state of Georgia has issued a birth certificate for a toddler with the last name "Allah" after initially declining to do so because it doesn't match either of the parents' last names, a civil rights group which sued on behalf of the parents said Thursday.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia sued last month on behalf of Elizabeth Handy and Bilal Walk, who had chosen the name ZalyKha Graceful Lorraina Allah. The group said it is dropping its lawsuit because the Georgia Department of Health has issued a birth certificate with the name the couple had chosen.
"This is an important vindication of parental rights and a long overdue victory for Elizabeth and Bilal," ACLU of Georgia Executive Director Andrea Young said.
"No one wants to live in a world where the government can dictate what you can and cannot name your child. It goes against our values, the legislature's intent, and the plain language of the law."
Now that the 23-month-old child has a birth certificate, her parents, who are expecting another child in July, can get a Social Security number for her, which will make it possible for them to access medical coverage and enroll her in public school, Young said.
A Department of Public Health lawyer had argued state law requires a baby's surname to be that of the father or the mother for the initial birth record. They said the last name of the child, who was born in 2015, should either be Handy, Walk or a combination of the two.
Lawyers for the parents argued that the law says the birth certificate shall include the surname "as designated by both parents." Additionally, they noted, the state had previously issued birth certificates with the last name "Allah" for two older sons.
Young urged any other parents who may find themselves in a similar situation to reach out to the ACLU of Georgia. -- AP