Arkansas couples ask court to deny stay in birth certificates case

Arkansas couples ask court to deny stay in birth certificates case
Arkansas Supreme Court
Arkansas Supreme Court

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Three same-sex married couples who sued Arkansas to get both spouses’ names listed on their children’s birth certificates asked the state’s highest court Thursday to not block a judge’s decision striking down part of the state’s birth certificate law.

An attorney for the three couples asked the state Supreme Court to deny the state’s bid to suspend the ruling that Arkansas must amend the couples’ licenses, listing both spouses as parents. Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox’s decision also voided a portion of Arkansas’ birth certificate law, a move the couples’ attorney says clears the way for other same-sex couples to receive amended certificates.

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has asked the high court to stay Fox’s decision, saying it could have unintended consequences such as removing the state’s authority to designate anyone as a parent on a birth certificate. The couples’ attorney dismissed the potential harms cited by the state.

“The effect of a stay in the issuance of birth certificates reflecting both parents would be not only inconvenient, but devastating to same-sex families in case of illness, death or other change in family circumstances,” Cheryl Maples wrote in Thursday’s filing.

Fox ruled that the U.S. Supreme Court decision in June legalizing gay marriage nationwide invalidates a portion of the birth certificate law that defines parents by gender.

Two of the couples were married out of state before the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, and a third was married in Arkansas days after the decision. The couples’ children were conceived through anonymous sperm donors.

The state Department of Health has said it’ll issue amended certificates to the three couples in the lawsuit, but will hold off on issuing them to other married same-sex couples while the case is being appealed. One of the three couples was issued an amended birth certificate Wednesday, the day after Fox’s decision.

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