Supreme Court upholds same-sex parents’ birth certificate rights in landmark ruling
The Supreme Court has protected the rights of same-sex parents to be named on their children’s birth certificates.
The Court struck down an Arkansas law that treated same-sex couples differently to opposite-sex couples on their children’s birth certificates.
The landmark ruling means gay couples can now be named on the certificates like heterosexual parents.
The decision was unsigned. Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr., dissented.
The decision overrides the US state of Arkansas ruling that birth certificates will only contain the names of the child’s biological parents.
The plaintiffs told the Supreme Court that Arkansas’ approach has serious consequences.
“A child’s birth certificate affects parental decision-making authority in the medical and educational context,” their lawyers wrote.
“For example, some Arkansas public schools allow only those parents named on the child’s birth certificate to receive educational information absent a court order.”
Lawyers for the state responded, saying that the presumption for fathers was justified because “in the overwhelming majority of cases, the mother’s husband is a marital child’s biological father,” adding that “parental rights flow from biology, not marriage.”
Arkansas’ Supreme Court previously rejected the rights of same-sex couples.
The court ruled in a case in which it reviewed a lower court’s ruling from December 2015, which had found that the requirement of having the biological mother and father listed on birth certificates was in violation of the constitutional right of adoptive same-sex parents.
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In the original ruling, Little Rock Circuit Judge Tim Fox first sided with three married lesbian couples, and then later extended his ruling to the entire state.
The state Supreme Court upheld the law in December in a divided ruling.
Associate Judge Jo Hart reasoned that “it does not violate equal protection to acknowledge basic biological truths.”
But Chief Justice Howard Brill urged a change in the law, quoting Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin.'”
Fox had previously ruled more specifically about three married lesbian couples, but extended his ruling to be more general.
He stated that a law across Arkansas which restricted the names able to be listed on a birth certificate to opposite-sex couples was unconstitutional.