LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The Arkansas Supreme Court has temporarily blocked a ruling by a lower court judge that would allow homosexuals throughout the state to have their name included on the birth certificates of their children even though 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.
Last month, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox sided with the lesbian women, stating that the birth certificates could be amended to include both of their names, and on Dec. 1, he expanded the allowance statewide.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge filed for a stay in the matter, and on Thursday, the Arkansas Supreme Court decided 5-2 to grant the request. The stay only sought to place a hold on Fox’s strike down of some of the sections of the state law pertaining to birth certificates, and did not seek to challenge the allowance to the six women.
“The issues presented are complex, with portions of a statute being struck and substantial additions being made to a provision of the Arkansas Code by the circuit court,” the court wrote. “Substantial confusion could result if the circuit court’s order were to remain in effect and subsequently be altered by a decision of this court on appeal.”
The two judges that voted against the stay said that it would be unfair to only grant the allowance to six women and not the entire state.
“The balance of equities weighs in favor of all same-sex couples having the right to have both spouses listed on the child’s birth certificate when the child was born subsequent to that union,” wrote Justice Rhonda Wood in a separate opinion. “This is especially true because [the plaintiffs] are receiving immediate relief while, as a result of the majority’s stay, others will not.”
Wood was joined by Paul Danielson in her dissent.
Judd Deere, a spokesman for Rutledge, said that the attorney general is pleased with the court’s decision.
“Attorney General Rutledge is gratified that the Arkansas Supreme Court acted quickly on her request and granted a stay of Judge Fox’s order,” he said in a statement. “The attorney general disagreed with much of the lower court’s order and was concerned that it would lead to confusion and uncertainty.”