Supreme Court sides with same-sex couples in Arkansas suit

Chelsea West
June 27, 2017

Under Arkansas law, female same-sex couples were forced to go to court to request both their names appear on the birth certificate.

"Birth certificates exist to record that a child was born and who the child's biological parents are presumed to be", he said.

Conservative Justices Neil Gorsuch, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas dissented, saying the lower court decision should not have been reversed.

But the U.S. Supreme Court rejected that, pointing out that Arkansas has a "presumption of parentage" statute whereby a male married to the mother of a child is legally considered to be the father of that child, even if he has no biological ties to it.

Read Tuesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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This is helpful to people in Arkansas because a birth certificate is often required to show parenthood in school enrollment and medical treatment, which is another reason that birth certificates are not just documents to name biological relationships.

We can not know for sure whether Gorsuch voted to take up this case - but it is notable that the Court decided not to consider this issue when Justice Antonin Scalia was still alive. The court said that the objective of a birth certificate is to name biological relationships for the goal of determining one's genetic background later in life. The decision was an extension of Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 Supreme Court case that led to marriage equality. Today's decision guarantees that the family we love will be respected and protected in the home we love'. "And it is very hard to see what is wrong with this conclusion for, just as the state court recognized, nothing in Obergefell indicates that a birth registration regime based on biology, one no doubt with many analogues across the country and throughout history, offends the Constitution".

"The Arkansas Supreme Court's decision flew in the face of Obergefell, undermining the dignity and equality of LGBT families and the government's obligation to protect children", Sommer added.

The Supreme Court issued a short ruling in Pavan v Smith in favor of LGBT rights.

Douglas Hallward-Driemeier, one of the lawyers to successfully persuade the U.S. Supreme Court to rule in favor of same-sex marriage, said upholding the Arkansas law would let states, "once again relegate same-sex couples and their families to the stigma, injury and inequality of "second-tier" status".

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