Georgia

Georgia couple sues to make daughter's surname 'Allah'

The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia reportedly filed a lawsuit against the state on behalf of Elizabeth Handy and Bilal Walk.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia reportedly filed a lawsuit against the state on behalf of Elizabeth Handy and Bilal Walk.  (REUTERS/Chip East, File)

A Georgia couple has reportedly filed a lawsuit against the state after they were denied a birth certificate for their infant with the last name they gave her – Allah.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia filed a lawsuit against the state on behalf of Elizabeth Handy and Bilal Walk, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Friday. The 22-month-old child does not currently have a birth certificate and, as a result, the couple said they cannot get a Social Security number for her.

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“We have to make sure that the state isn’t overstepping their boundaries,” Walk said. “It is just plainly unfair and a violation of our rights.”

State officials contend that the child’s proposed last name would not fit the state’s naming conventions, the paper reported. Officials said the last name should be Handy, Walk or a combination of the two. Lawyers representing the state said Georgia “requires that a baby’s surname be either that of the father of the mother for purposes of the initial birth record.”

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General counsel Sidney Barrett wrote in a letter that once the birth certificate is made, the child’s name could be changed by petitioning superior court.

The ACLU said the state’s decision was an example of government overreach and a violation of the First and 14 amendments. The group said that the couple’s son – who has the last name Allah – without any issue.

The couple said they have been dealing with this issue since May 2015 and the fight has kept them from being able to attain medical coverage and food snaps through SNAP. They added that the name had nothing to do with religion.

“Simply put, we have a personal understanding that we exercise in regards to the names,” Walk said. “It is nothing that we want to go into detail about, because it is not important. What is important is the language of the statute and our rights as parents.”

The couple hopes to get the issue settled quickly. Handy is six months pregnant.

Click for more from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.