Parents Sue Georgia State For Denying Right To Name Their Daughter 'Allah'
The state of Georgia denied a young girl's parents' right to name their daughter "Allah." Elizabeth Handy and Bilal Walk filed a lawsuit against the state for blocking their choice. They filed with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
The parents chose the name Allah for its nobility and spirituality. They hoped their children can aspire to these values as adults.
The state of Georgia, however, won't allow them the name for a technical reason. Its laws stated last names must follow one of the parents' last names, Handy or Walk, or a combination of both, as per CNN.
Now at 22 months, ZalyKha Graceful Lorraina Allah is still without a birth certificate or a Social Security number. Her parents foresee problems with school registration, access to health care or travel, if this won't be resolved soon enough.
"We have a personal understanding that we exercise in regards to the names," the girl's father said. "It is just plainly unfair and a violation of our rights."
Named in the lawsuit were Brenda Fitzgerald, the state's Department of Public Health commissioner, and Donna L. Moore, of the Office of Vital Records. ACLU Georgia Executive Director Andrea Young said this lawsuit is an example of a government overreach.
"[It's] a clear violation of the right to freedom of speech and the right to equal protection under the law," Young said in a statement. A University of California at Davis law professor Carlton F.W. Larson, who is an expert on parental rights in naming children, also saw no compelling reason for the state's rejection.
"Naming your child is an expressive action," the professor said, as per The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "The idea that you get to name your child, and not the state, is a fundamental right."
Handy and Walk have a 3-year-old son whose last name is Allah, which encountered no problems with the state. Walk has a 16-year-old son from a previous marriage who uses the same last name as well.
Handy is currently six months pregnant and worries the same problem might happen to their unborn child. They also plan on naming their baby after a noble name.