Bilal Walk and Elizabeth Handy want to give their daughter ZalyKha Graceful Lorraina, the last name “Allah”. However, the Department of Public Health told the couple her name must end in one of their surnames or a combination of both. As a result, they are suing the state.
The Georgia couple experienced no issues naming their 3-year-old son, Masterful Allah. The problems with their 22-month-old daughter’s name came as a surprise.
Trying to find a solution, the state suggested, “pick a surname for purposes of the initial birth record and then once the couple has the birth certificate, they could petition a higher court to change the baby’s surname.”
After fighting with the state for almost two years, the American Civil Liberties Union stepped in to help the couple. They filed a lawsuit on their behalf.
Without an official name, the couple has been unable to obtain a birth certificate. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that without it, they have been unable to acquire a social security number. According to lawyers, this has resulted in the couple not being “able to receive medical coverage under Medicaid and are prevented from obtaining food stamps through the SNAP program.” In addition, an upcoming Mexico trip has been cancelled due to lack of paperwork for their daughter.
Georgia code “requires that a baby’s surname be either that of the father of the mother for purposes of the initial birth record.”
Walker told the Journal:
“We have to make sure that the state isn’t overstepping their boundaries. It is just plainly unfair and a violation of our rights.”
Their attorney sees no issues with the unrelated new last name.
Michael Baumrind, another attorney representing the family, said while it is true that the family is trying to introduce a third surname, it is irrelevant.
“There are numbers of parents who have selected a name for their children,” Baumrind said. “The state has no business determining if a name is satisfactory. The parents get to decide the name of the child. Not the state. It is an easy case.”
The couple sees it is an act of honor, not religion.
ZalyKha was born May 25, 2015. They said they gave her the name because it was “noble,” and it has nothing to do with religion. Allah is the name for God, the Supreme Being, in the Arabic language.
“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.”
Their lawyer sees it as a right.
“Naming your child is an expressive action,” Larson said. “And the idea that you get to name your child, and not the state, is a fundamental right.
Resolving this issue is critical for the couple, not just for their daughter, but Handy is six months pregnant. They don’t wish to incur this fight with that child as well.
“We don’t want to go through that process again,” Handy said. “We are still in the process of coming up with a name, and we don’t even know if it will be a girl or a boy. But the child will definitely have a noble title. Something to live up to.”
As a Constitutional Conservative, I totally believe in parents’ rights. However, they already stated they need an official name so the state can provide health care and food stamps for said child. That’s as ironic as women telling the government to stay out of their uterus but demand it pays for their birth control. In addition, maybe cancelling a vacation to Mexico while needing government assistance for food is not such a bad thing. Especially with another baby on the way.
That being said, I hope they find a solution soon, for the baby’s sake.
But that’s just my 2 cents.