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Arkansas, same-sex couples in birth certificate tiff

It's typically the case that some people start testing the boundaries and parameters of a new law as soon as it is enacted. Unsurprisingly, and given the sheer scope of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage across the country, that judicial ruling has been cited a lot in legal matters nationally that are receiving press coverage.

Arkansas is a case in point, with a recent news story chronicling the efforts of three lesbian couples seeking amendments to birth certificates to reflect both parents' names, not just the name of the birth mother.

They failed in all three cases.

The result: a lawsuit filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court that targets state health officials and demands that non-birth mothers' names be added to that document in the same manner as is the case when heterosexual couples receive a birth certificate.

A health department spokesperson says that the refusal to include both parents' names in the case of same-sex couples does not owe to state authorities' recalcitrance in the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling; rather, a problem with the wording that currently exists on Arkansas birth certificates needs to first be remedied before a non-birth same-sex parent can be added to the document.

The issue, says that official, is that birth certificates in Arkansas make reference only to mothers and fathers and that they need to be made gender-neutral to accommodate same-sex couples. Until they are (with that stated to require bureaucratic input from the department's Bureau of Vital Statistics), same-sex couples are being requested to secure a court order allowing a document name change.

"We hope to identify a different process in the near future that will be more streamlined and not as cumbersome," says the spokesperson.

Source: Jezebel, "Lesbian moms say Arkansas won't put both parents on birth certificate," Anna Merlan, July 14, 2015

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