Arkansas amends birth certificates for some — but not all — same-sex couples

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge (R-Ark.)

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge (R-Ark.) AP

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The Arkansas Health Department has decided to issue amended birth certificates for children of same-sex couples who can prove they were married before the child was born, an agency spokeswoman confirmed Monday.

The department reviewed an order from Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Tim Fox and decided to amend those specific birth certificates starting last Friday, department spokeswoman Meg Mirivel said. As of Monday morning, Mirivel said “a few” couples had applied for the amended certificates.

The amendments “may change depending on the Arkansas Supreme Court’s decision on (the department’s) request for a stay,” Mirivel wrote. “Because this is a legal matter that continues to develop, this is all the information we have to share at this time.”

Fox issued a written ruling last week striking down a portion of the state’s birth certificate law and saying Arkansas must amend the birth certificates to list both spouses as parents. The ruling expanded a verbal order he issued from the bench late last month that allowed the three same-sex couples who sued the Department of Health for refusing to name both spouses on the birth certificates of their children to amend the documents and list both names.

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge asked the high court to stay that ruling pending the state’s appeal. As of Monday morning, the court had not ruled on that request. Rutledge spokesman Judd Deere said the office was aware of the department’s decision.

“Our advice has not changed as far as obeying the order,” he said, referring other questions to the health department.

An attorney for the couples, Cheryl Maples, has asked the court to deny the request for a stay, saying there is no irreparable harm to the state if the certificates are issued while the appeal is heard.

The department had decided Wednesday to issue amended certificates only to the children of those parents named in the lawsuit, turning away other same-sex couples seeking amended certificates.

Maples said she found out late Friday afternoon that the department had changed its position. She said she posted information on her Facebook page shortly before 4 p.m. Friday to let couples know if they moved quickly, they could make it to the department’s office before it closed.

Maples said at least one couple made it to the office Friday in time.

Jennifer Gardner-Glaze had tried last Wednesday to get her name added as a parent to her four-month-old son’s birth certificate, which only listed her wife, Tracee, as the mother. She was turned away by the department and had been considering legal options when she saw Maples’ Facebook post Friday.

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