Arkansas court throws out ruling on birth certificate law


The decision reverses the ruling of the circuit court below the Arkansas Supreme Court, which found Arkansas state law on birth certificates contravened decisions in state court and the U.S. Supreme Court in favor of same-sex marriage. The court argues that their decision isn't discriminatory but rather "acknowledge [s] basic biological truths".

Arkansas' highest court on Thursday threw out a judge's ruling that could have allowed married same-sex couples to get the names of both spouses on their children's birth certificates without a court order, saying it doesn't violate equal protection "to acknowledge basic biological truths". Fox had cited the U.S. Supreme Court's decision legalizing gay marriage in his ruling previous year that said married same-sex couples should have both names listed on their children's birth certificates, just as heterosexual married couples do, without requiring a court order.

The attorney representing the same-sex couples in the case has not yet decided whether to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, which would be the next step if she elects to challenge today's decision. "There's no requirement that DNA be given or that there be a biological relationship to a child to get on a birth certificate for a father, for the non-birth parent", she said. Without this legitimization, parents may struggle to put children on their health insurance or even pick them up from school. Further, she claimed that having both biological parents accurately listed on birth certificates is a benefit to children, allowing them an accurate genetic history.

The third couple had a child first and then Wednesday in July 2015 in Arkansas after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states, but the two couldn't get an amended birth certificate without adoption papers.

Kate Oakley, senior legislative counsel for the Human Rights Campaign, blasted the majority decision as an attempt to undermine the U.S. Supreme Court ruling for nationwide same-sex marriage. Today's ruling from the Arkansas Supreme Court continues to take aim at rights guaranteed to married, same-sex couples under the law.

The high court's majority also admonished Fox for the "inappropriate remarks" in his circuit court order, in which he wrote that the high court had previously deprived people of their constitutional rights in a separate manner. He also suggested that the state legislature amend state records rules to prevent confusion in this area of the law.

The ruling could place burdens on same-sex couples that opposite-sex couples would not experience, including forcing same-sex couples to enter into legal proceedings to assert parental rights.

Justice Brill partially upheld the lower court's decision; in doing so, he quoted 16 lines from the Bob Dylan song, "The Times They Are A-Changin'" in his opinion.

Two of the justices who ruled to overturn Fox's decision called on the legislature or the executive branch to change the law to fix the problem facing same-sex couples.

Dissenting to the majority ruling is Associate Justice Paul Danielson, who determined the Arkansas marriage decision in state court applies to the birth certificate law, even though the statute wasn't named, as well as the U.S. Supreme Court decision for same-sex marriage.