ACLU battles Georgia over toddler's last name of 'Allah'

Naming your child is the greatest opportunity to express a legacy and blessing for many parents.

ATLANTA | A civil rights group is suing Georgia over the state's refusal to allow a couple to officially name its 22-month-old child "Allah".

In their eyes, they should have been allowed to give their daughter any name they wanted, and the state had over stepped the line and infringed their constitutional rights.

The Handy-Walk-Allah family and the ACLU have filed a case against Georgia, saying they fear that without a birth certificate they will be unable to obtain a social security number and the child's citizenship will be questioned throughout her life.

The American Civil Liberties Union have now filed a suit against the state saying that the government has no business telling parents what they can and cannot name their children.

According to Sidney Barrett, a lawyer for the state, after the birth record is created with one of the acceptable last names, the last name may be changed by going to court, although name changes are not always guaranteed. Handy and Walk have a 3-year-old son who was named Masterful Allah without any objection from the state.

The parents said they said gave her the child the name Allah because it was "noble" and it had nothing to do with religion. The fourth part of her given name, Allah, has drawn the ire of state authorities and kicked of a prolonged legal battle to get her a birth certificate. They said that they still do not have a birth certificate because of the dispute and had to cancel their planned trip to Mexico since they could not travel without it.

The couple say they're not eligible to receive health insurance or food stamps without a social security number for the child, which they can not get without a birth certificate. "Not the state. It is an easy case".

Naming your child is an expressive action. The state would need to have a compelling reason for rejecting a name, and I don't see it. Handy and Walk, who are not married, claim that they have completed such an acknowledgment, so they should be able to name their daughter by any name they please.

"Simply put, we have a personal understanding that we exercise in regards to the names", Walk told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

"We don't want to go through that process again", Handy said. "What is important is the language of the statute and our rights as parents". She doesn't know if it will be a boy or a girl, but says, "the child will definitely have a noble title".

  • Leroy Wright