Last year Pulaski County Circuit Judge Timothy Fox issued a ruling that forced the State of Arkansas to put the names of three married, same-sex couples on children’s birth certificates. Yesterday the Arkansas Supreme Court overturned Judge Fox’s ruling.
Each same-sex couple has been legally married since the U.S. Supreme Court redefined marriage in 2015, and each has a child conceived via an anonymous sperm donor.
In each of these three cases, only one spouse—the woman who actually gave birth to the child—is a biological parent of the child. According to the Department of Health, only the biological mother of the child may be listed on the child’s birth certificate; you cannot list the name of a second, unrelated “mother” on the certificate.
The three couples sued the state, and Judge Fox ruled in their favor last year, saying the the birth certificates can be amended to list a second “mother.”
Yesterday the Arkansas Supreme Court overturned Judge Fox’s ruling, saying it is entirely appropriate for a child’s birth certificate to list his or her biological parents. In particular, the court noted,
“In the situation involving the female spouse of a biological mother, the female spouse does not have the same biological nexus to the child that the biological mother or the biological father has. It does not violate equal protection to acknowledge basic biological truths.”
We are glad the Arkansas Supreme Court chose to uphold state law on this issue. As we have said before, birth certificates exist to record that a child was born and who the child’s parents are—not who happens to be married to one of the child’s biological parents. Birth certificates are not simply pieces of paper. They are vital records that need to be accurate and deserve respect. We should be careful not to let them become mere political ploys.
Photo Credit: By Brian Turner (Flickr: My Trusty Gavel) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.