POLITICS

Arkansas Refuses To List Same-Sex Parents On Birth Certificates Despite Judge's Ruling

Only the three couples named as plaintiffs in the case are getting amended birth certificates.
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge (R) will appeal the birth certificate decision.
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge (R) will appeal the birth certificate decision.

An Arkansas judge on Tuesday struck down part of a state law that barred same-sex couples from being listed on their children's birth certificates, ordering government officials to immediately issue amended certificates to the three plaintiff couples. 

But as other couples quickly found out, the state is not yet extending that right to anyone beyond the plaintiffs. 

Jennifer Gardner-Glaze of Little Rock has actually married her wife, Tracee, three times over the years, as they've tried to keep up with the changing landscape of where marriage equality is legal. They now have a 4-month-old son, but only Tracee is listed on the birth certificate. 

On Wednesday, the Gardner-Glazes went to the Arkansas Department of Health to amend their son's birth certificate. The couple was familiar with the case because they're friends with Marisa and Terrah Pavan, two of the plaintiffs. 

The health official told them that they were continuing to "evaluate" the situation and could not give the couple an amended document.

"In Arkansas, if a man and a woman are married, and they use a sperm donor and the child is born, the husband is automatically put on the birth certificate, no questions asked. That's the difference," Jennifer said. "But if we're a same-sex couple and we're married, and we use a sperm donor and our son is born, I cannot be put on the birth certificate."

In his opinion Tuesday, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox wrote, "Today's decision affords the plaintiffs, as same-sex couples, the same constitutional rights with respect to the issuance of birth certificates and amended birth certificates as opposite-sex couples. That is the sum total of the legal effect of this decision."

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge will be appealing the decision to the state Supreme Court. In the meantime, her office is advising state officials not to amend more birth certificates.

"Attorney General Rutledge has advised the Department of Health to follow Judge Fox's order with regard to amending the birth certificates of the three minors in this case," Rutledge spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement. "However, to avoid confusion and uncertainty created by other parts of the order, the Attorney General will ask the Arkansas Supreme Court to stay the decision and will appeal."

Jennifer and Tracee first wed in California, a month after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down parts of the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013. But since Arkansas still had its same-sex marriage ban in place, they couldn't get state benefits. 

They then married again in May 2014, during a brief window when about 500 couples were able to wed after a Pulaski County judge struck down the ban. (The attorney general appealed the decision and the state Supreme Court halted the issuance of the licenses after just a few days.) Jennifer and Tracee then had a final wedding after the Supreme Court struck down all state bans this summer. 


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