ACLU wins battle over “made up” last name for baby

Two Georgia parents are cheering after winning a dispute over the last name chosen to appear on their child’s birth certificate.  The pair chose “Allah” as the last name of their now toddler daughter, despite a state law which mandates a child’s last name must be one of the parents or a combination of the two.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia filed a lawsuit in March on behalf of Elizabeth and Bilal Walk. The pair named their child “ZalyKha Graceful Lorraina Allah,” but the state would not issue the birth certificate because the name was not in compliance with state law.

The family alleged the denial was a violation of the First Amendment and their civil rights while the Georgia Department of Public Health lawyer argued that the state law should supersede a choice last name. Oddly, the state previously issued birth certificates with the last name “Allah” for two older sons.

After several weeks of pressure, however, the Department of Public Health caved and issued a birth certificate with the last name “Allah” as requested. ZalyKha will now be assigned a social security number, something she was denied before, and will be eligible to obtain health insurance and enroll in a public school.

An attorney for the family, Michael Baumrind, said back in March that it was an “easy” case, that “the parents get to decide the name of the child. Not the state.”

The Executive Director of the ACLU of Georgia, Andrea Young, told the Associated Press “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.”

The ACLU will not purse the lawsuit any further. The parents are expecting another child in July, though they made no mention of what the name may be

6 thoughts on “ACLU wins battle over “made up” last name for baby”

    1. I agree a child’s name is parent’s choice. However that choice should be a consideration should there be cause for the state to have to consider that individual child’s welfare.

    2. Seeing an interview with the ACLU attorneys it appears that the reason this was a slam dunk is because it has already been established that the State cannot interfere with the naming of a child. With the exceptions being obvious vulgarities, numbers, or symbols. Georgia’s statute that the child must carry some combination of either or both parents’ surname is just as antique now as the one we used to still have on the books requiring a man to first walk into an intersection sounding a horn if a female was driving a vehicle that was approaching said intersection.

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