Arkansas Judge Rules in Favor of Lesbians Who Sought Recognition as Parents on Birth Certificates

FoxLITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A judge in Arkansas has ruled in favor of three pairs of lesbians who sought to be recognized on the birth certificates of their children, although at least one woman is not the biological parent.

Six lesbians had filed suit against the Arkansas Health Department’s Vital Statistics Bureau after it declined to recognize both women as the parents on the birth certificates, which they sought to do in order to obtain insurance coverage for the children.

The bureau stated that the women needed to obtain a court order in the matter.

In their lawsuit, the women alleged that the refusal violated the U.S. Constitution because they could not both be listed just like heterosexual parents. But the state argued that the requirement to obtain a court order is the same for heterosexual couples who have children out of wedlock and marry after the birth.

On Monday, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox sided with the lesbian women, stating that the birth certificates can be amended to include both of their names.

He drew a distinction between the various plaintiffs, however, as some had “married” before the birth and some after. Fox said that the latter scenario was not as clear in his mind in siding with the women, but decided to likewise allow their names to be listed.

The ruling applied only to those involved in the suit, but Fox is considering broadening his opinion to include the state as an entirety in the future.

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However, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s office has filed for a stay in the matter on behalf of the Arkansas Department of Health, and Rutledge plans to appeal once an official written decision is issued.

Because of the filing, when plaintiffs Marissa Pavan and Cheryl Maples visited the vital records office on Tuesday to make the change, they were denied.

“[T]he air got let out of the balloon real quick,” Pavan told UALR radio. “They said until there’s a written summary judgment about everything, we’re just going to keep doing what we’ve been doing.”


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