Parents sue for right to name daughter ‘Allah’

Story highlightsDepartment that rejected the surname says it is about the lawNaming laws vary from state to state (CNN)Update April 21, 2017: The state of Georgia has reversed course and issued a birth certificate with the last name “Allah” for Elizabeth Handy and Bilal Walk’s baby girl.

Original story from March 30, 2017: A mom and dad in Georgia are suing the Georgia Department of Health because they refused to let the couple give their daughter the surname “Allah.” Elizabeth Handy and Bilal Walk’s baby girl is now almost two years old, and she still doesn’t have a last name or a birth certificate. Their chosen name, ZalyKha Graceful Lorraina Allah, was rejected by the health department. It said the law requires parents to choose the mother’s last name, the father’s last name or a combination of both.Here’s the catch: Handy and Walk’s 3-year-old son was granted the last name with no problem. So was Walk’s 16-year-old son from a previous marriage. Read MoreThe ACLU of Georgia has filed a lawsuit against the Department, saying the decision is a “government overreach.”A parent’s right? Andrea Young, the executive director of the Georgia ACLU told CNN the situation is a misinterpretation of the law. “The regulation goes outside the bounds of plain language of statute,” Young said. It is the parents’ right, Young says, to give their child whatever name they want. The law provides for last names related to a “bona fide cultural tradition,” but even that can be difficult to parse out. “This regulation initially did not have exception for bona fide cultural traditions… but who has authority to judge that? A clerk, a judge, given whole variety of cultures?” she says. Handy and Walk chose the name “Allah” because it represents their spirituality and is a name their children can aspire to. But as of now, their daughter has no last name, which means no birth certificate, which means no social security number. Her parents are bracing for the challenges that will come with getting her insured and into school. Can you really name your child anything? The reality is, states and institutions do often have a say in what names are appropriate, though the reach is usually limited. In 2009, a couple got nationwide attention when a bakery refused to decorate a cake with the name of their son

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