Married Same-Sex Arkansas Couples Fight to be Listed on Kids' Birth Certificates

Arkansas

Married same-sex partners in Arkansas won't be listed as equal parents on the birth certificates of their children after the state Supreme Court suspended a ruling on Thursday which would have allowed it on the basis of marriage equality, according to the Associated Press.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox had ruled that Arkansas' birth certificate law was unconstitutional citing the passage of marriage equality, according to the wire service. After this ruling, birth certificates with both parent's names were allowed for to couples who could prove they were married prior to the birth of their child, the Associated Press reported.

However, citing fears of "confusion" the states' Supreme Court decided to halt this process in a 5-2 decision according to the Southwest Times Record:

Justice Paul Danielson said in a two-sentence dissenting opinion that he would have denied the motion for a stay because the state had not demonstrated that a stay was warranted.

Justice Rhonda Wood wrote in a separate opinion that she would not have stayed the portion of Fox’s ruling that struck down language in Arkansas law to reflect the legalization of gay marriage and allow same-sex parents to be listed on birth certificates.

“The balance of equities weighs in favor of all same-sex couples having the right to have both spouses listed on the child’s birth certificate when the child was born subsequent to that union,” Wood wrote. “This is especially true because (the plaintiffs) are receiving immediate relief while, as a result of the majority’s stay, others will not.”

But Wood said she agreed with the majority that it was appropriate to stay the part of Fox’s ruling that added language to state law.

A spokesperson for State Attorney General Leslie Rutledge told the Associated Press that Rutledge was pleased with the outcome: “The attorney general disagreed with much of the lower court’s order and was concerned that it would lead to confusion and uncertainty,” Judd Deere said in a statement.

Since the passage of marriage equality, birth certificate laws have been challenged in other states such as Texas, Florida and Nebraska. Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said the Supreme Court’s ruling “will give the Legislature guidance as to how to adjust our laws to make sense in light of the United States Supreme Court’s ruling,” according to the Southwest Times.

The three couples who initially filed the lawsuit will be permitted to obtain accurate birth certificates for their children. However, a spokeswoman for the state health department told the wire service that all other married same-sex parents would now need a court order to both be listed as parents now that the lower court ruling is on hold.

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