This story proves that nothing is ever as simple as it seems.
A couple in Georgia gave birth last year to a baby girl. They gave her the name ZalyKha Graceful Lorraina. Unusual, intriguing and kind of cool.
But the couple, Elizabeth Handy and Bilal Walk, wanted to give her the surname “Allah.” While they say that they are not particularly religious, they find the name Allah to be “noble.” They already have two sons who have it as their surname.
The Georgia Department of Health, however, refused to allow the couple to give their child a last name that is different from either of theirs. They told the parents to give their child either of their last names, or to combine the two.
The couple went to court, with the assistance of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Their lawyer, Andrea Young, said:
No one wants to live in a world where the government can dictate what you can and cannot name your child.”
Georgia law says that people can name their kids anything they want to name them, as long as the choice isn’t offensive. The parents said that Allah was a fine, noble name and they wanted to use it.
The judge in the case agreed, and the baby girl was finally given a birth certificate with her full name, and a Social Security number. Her parents were obviously relieved that she will be able to prove her citizenship and get any future benefits that she might need. They are happy that all of their children will have the same last name.
It sounds so simple, doesn’t it?
Here’s the problem. The use of the name Allah is offensive to many in the Muslim community. While many Muslim surnames include the word Allah (like Abdullah), referring to oneself by the name of God is completely inappropriate.
So what is the best, the fairest, the kindest decision in the case? Should parents be able to give their children a name that will offend some of their neighbors?
I don’t know.
All I know is that things are never as simple as they may seem.
Featured image via Pixabay.