Arkansas Lets Same-Sex Couples From Lawsuit Amend Birth Certificates

Dec 2, 2015

Marissa Pavan shows the birth certificate she received Wednesday for her child, created through artificial insemination.
Credit Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas health officials are allowing three married same-sex couples who filed a lawsuit against the state to include the names of spouses on birth certificates of their children. But other couples who showed up at the Arkansas Department of Health Wednesday and weren’t parties in the suit were turned away.

"It’s happening, she just took our paperwork," an excited Marissa Pavan said to her wife Terrah as a worker began processing the application. The couple had waited about an hour at that point with their baby girl as department employees determined how to respond to a judge’s order.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox issued a written decision Tuesday affirming an earlier ruling from the bench that said same-sex couples are entitled to have their names included on birth certificates just as heterosexual couples are.

"It feels really great, but it’s also, you know, it’s disappointing because other people that were here who are our friends, they didn’t get theirs," Marissa Pavan said. Their child was conceived through artificial insemination.

Jennifer Gardner-Glaze (left) and Terrah Pavan hold their newborns and visit while waiting to learn whether the Arkansas Department of Health would allow them to amend the birth certificates of their children.
Credit Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Jennifer Gardner-Glaze and her wife were at the office at the same time as the Pavans, but were disappointed to learn the health department workers could not amend their child’s birth certificate.

"We were hopeful, we knew that they could technically do whatever they wanted to do, but we were hopeful that we were going to get in before there was an appeal and we didn’t," Gardner-Glaze said.

"It’s frustrating. You just want to be treated like anybody else. A heterosexual couple who used donor sperm during their marriage would have no problems being on the birth certificate," she added.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s office said Wednesday it is appealing the ruling to the state Supreme Court. Judge Fox refused to issue a stay while that appeal is considered. In the interim, Rutledge advised the health officials to follow the order for only the three children involved in the lawsuit.