Couple wins fight to use Allah as child's last name

ATLANTA — An Atlanta couple now has their daughter's birth certificate with the name of their choosing.

Elizabeth Handy and Bilal Walk said that Georgia officials refused to grant their daughter — ZalyKha Graceful Lorraina Allah – a birth certificate.

The child was born in May 2015.

State officials said the child's name did not fit the naming conventions set up by state law. They said that ZalyKha's last name should either be Handy, Walk or a combination of the two.


The couple's two older children also have the last name Allah. They said they did not choose the name for religious reasons.

With the backing of the ACLU of Georgia, they sued the state on the grounds that they were being denied basic benefits.

The ACLU filed to dismiss its case Thursday against the Department of Public Health once they got cooperation and were able to get the last name on the birth certificate.

"They'll be able to get her enrolled in public school, obtain a social security number and health care coverage and go about their daily lives without fear that her identity will be questioned," said ACLU executive director Andrea Young.

The ACLU of Georgia has filed suit on behalf of parents who were denied when they tried to name their daughter SalyKha Graceful Lorraina Allah. This birth certificate application was Exhibit A in the lawsuit. (Fulton County Superior Court)

The couple's attorney said a 2004 statute trumped a state regulation that had limited them.

"It hasn't been that long where the law is absolutely clear that parents have the right to choose a last name, whatever last mane they want, as long as it's not an expletive or a symbol or a number," Michael Baumrindi said.

The couple said they are expecting another child this summer, and do not expect the birth certificate process to be as complicated.