By: Paul Goldberg, Staff Writer
Court Says State Can Legally Refuse To List Non-Birth Mother
LITTLE ROCK, ARK – The Supreme Court of Arkansas refused to overturn a conservative law which allows discrimination against married Gay and Lesbian couples who wish to have both names on the birth certificates of their children.
Last Thursday the state’s top court ruled that the state can Constitutionally refuse to grant lesbian couples a birth certificate that lists their child with two mothers however, did allow three same sex couples involved in a lawsuit to keep both spouses’ names on the amended birth certificates of their children.
The ruling follows a long legal battle in which the state of Arkansas has a law on their books that lays out how the Department of Health should handle birth certificates and how they are to list the identification of only the “mother” and a “father.”
According to the Arkansas Supreme Court, “Those laws were not in conflict with Obergefell v. Hodges, last year’s landmark Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage nationwide.”
“Obergefell did not address Arkansas’s statutory framework regarding birth certificates, either expressly or impliedly,” wrote Justice Josephine Hart, making it a point that the 2015 decision dealt specifically with the right to gay marriage and addressed birth certificates only in passing. In this reporter’s opinion, when would really like to know what is driving these people to continue to live in the dark ages?
Under the Arkansas statutes that the top court of the state reaffirmed last Thursday, the three married couples who sued the Health Department were issued birth certificates that named only their child’s birth mother. The couples argued this violated their constitutional rights to due process and equal protection of the laws however the state’s barbaric ruling didn’t agree.
According to court records, all three couples were married and had conceived through artificial insemination from anonymous sperm donors.
Last year, a lower court judge agreed and struck down the laws stating that they were unconstitutional. That then lead to a temporary victory for the couples as the Arkansas attorney general and the Health Department kept silent while they planned their next move in the courts. However several days later, the Arkansas Supreme Court put the judge’s order on hold, effectively halting the issuance of birth certificates to same-sex couples in the state.
In its Thursday ruling, “The state’s top court reasoned in part that the two main laws at issue don’t implicate gay marriage or the parental rights of same-sex couples, but merely attempt to “truthfully record the nexus of the biological mother and the biological father to the child.”
“On the record presented,” the court’s majority opinion states, “we cannot say that naming the nonbiological spouse on the birth certificate of the child is an interest of the person so fundamental that the State must accord the interest its respect under either statute.”
This conclusion drew a harsh response from Chief Justice Howard Brill, who said he strongly disagreed with the decision’s broad constitutional point although he signed on to a more technical portion of the ruling.
“Regardless of personal values and regardless of a belief that the United States Supreme Court may have wrongfully decided a legal issue, all are bound by the law of the land,” wrote Chief Justice Brill.
Out of the entire court only one Justice Paul Danielson opposed the entire ruling. Obergefell requires that this benefit be accorded to same-sex spouses and opposite-sex spouses with equal force,” wrote Justice Danielson.
We are sure to see all three same-sex couples appeal the decision in Smith v. Pavan to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“We cannot say that naming the nonbiological spouse on the birth certificate of the child is an interest of the person so fundamental that the State must accord the interest its respect. Arkansas Supreme Court.”
Judd Deere, spokesman for Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, who’s office defended the law, released this statement in response to the stay;
“Attorney General Rutledge is gratified that the Arkansas Supreme Court acted quickly on her request and granted a stay of Judge Fox’s order. The Attorney General disagreed with much of the lower court’s order and was concerned that it would lead to confusion and uncertainty.”
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