Elizabeth Handy and Bilal Walk are an every day couple from Georgia, are still waiting on the birth certificate to be issued by the Department of Public Health for their 22-month old girl. Why? Because they decided to include the name Allah in her surname. They are now taking legal action. Not getting this birth certificate has been preventing them from getting the child a social security number and are now worried that this might affect her United States citizenship and identity.
The child’s full surname is to be ZalyKha Graceful Lorraina Allah, but state officials let Elizabeth and Bilal know that that the surname should be Handy, Billal or a combination of the two names. Mr. Walk said that they chose to include Allah in her last name because it is “noble.”
“It is just plainly unfair and a violation of our rights,” Mr Walk said of the state’s refusal to acknowledge the name. However, lawyers for the Department of Public Health said Georgia code “requires that a baby’s surname be either that of the father of the mother for purposes of the initial birth record”.
In a letter to the family, state officials wrote that ZalyKha’s surname can be changed through a petition to superior court, but only after the birth record is recognised. They fear the girl’s identity and rights as a US citizen will be questioned. The ACLU said the state’s refusal to grant the family’s wishes was an unconstitutional example of government overreach. “The parents get to decide the name of the child,” said Michael Baumrind, a lawyer for the family. “Not the state. It is an easy case.”