State law in Arkansas concerning the listing of adults’ names on birth certificates is in flux, and in a big way.
And no answer seems immediately forthcoming to provide guidance and set forth a clear standard on how to resolve what is both confusion and ire concerning the current statutory enactment.
As noted in one recent media report, here it what Arkansas law long mandated prior to recent events that have muddied judicial waters: in cases involving married couples, the insertion of the husband’s name on the document, regardless of whether that man was the father of a child or not.
At the crux of a debate now is how to properly handle the demand of same-sex couples. The above-cited articles stresses that they “want the same presumption applied to the married partner of a woman who gives birth to a child.”
And that has not been routinely happening across the state. In fact, and until recently, state law required lesbian couples to produce a court order as a prerequisite to both spouses being listed as parents on a child’s birth certificate.
That was unconstitutional, ruled the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year, and the Arkansas courts have been grappling with the issue since then.
Some clarification was intended in an Arkansas Supreme Court ruling announced last month, but multiple media accounts state that clarity is in short supply in the wake of that decision.
In a nutshell, some justices want a lower court judge to rewrite a statute he earlier drafted. Other justices say that a rewrite — in fact, any adjustment of current law at all — is not properly the province of the courts and that legal change must come from state lawmakers.
“The pen belongs to the legislature,” wrote one of the high court judges.
Now it remains to be seen who will wield it and what the results will be.