By M. Swift
Atlanta couple Elizabeth Handy and Bilal Walk named their daughter “ZalyKha Graceful Lorraina Allah” but have been unable to get a birth certificate for her. The child will be two next month but doesn’t have a legal name.
The reason? It appears that the Georgia Department of Public Health believes that young ZalyKha’s last name of “Allah” doesn’t fit the state’s naming conventions. The state says that the child’s name should either be “Handy,” “Walk,” or some combination instead of “Allah.” The thing here is that the couple has a child name Masterful Allah with a birth certificate.
The situation has resulted in the couple being unable to get a birth certificate. This means things such as getting insurance and assistance will be a hassle if not impossible.
Enter the ACLU’s Georgia branch. Executive Director Andrea Young says that the Department of Health is overreaching in its refusal to give the couple a birth certificate for ZalyKha. Handy and Walk reached out to the ACLU to help them exercise their rights in this case.
“We don’t want to go through that process again,” Handy says. She is six months along with their third child.
The lawsuit lists the department’s commissioner, Brenda Fitzgerald, and the state registrar and director of vital records Donna L. Moore. The department’s general counsel Sidney Barrett says that the couple could put in a “valid” birth certificate and change the name via a superior court petition.
This means more time and money put into a legal exercise that could be avoided if the couple were allowed to name their daughter as they pleased in the first place.
Bilal Walk says that the couple has a process they go into when naming their children. “It is nothing that we want to go into detail about because it is not important,” he says. “What is important is the language of the statute and our rights as parents.”
Elizabeth Handy says they are still thinking of a name for their third child. “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,” she says. “But the child will definitely have a noble title. Something to live up to.”
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M. Swift primarily writes on moments and important figures in Black history for Your Black World. He also writes heavily on wrestling, comics, gaming, and Black sci-fi and fantasy.