Arkansas Supreme Court Issues Stay On Part Of Birth Certificate Ruling

Dec 10, 2015

Marissa Pavan, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit to allow her spouse to be listed on her daughter's birth certificate, shows the amended certificate she received Dec. 2.
Credit Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The Arkansas Supreme Court has issued a temporary halt on Pulaski County Judge Tim Fox's order striking down part of the state’s birth certificate law. Justices did however allow three same sex couples involved in a lawsuit to keep both spouses' names on the amended birth certificates of their children.


Since last Friday, the Arkansas Health Department has allowed both parent’s names on birth certificates as long as the couple could prove they we married before the child was born. Health Department spokeswoman Meg Mirivel says they've now reversed that policy.


“Basically this stay means we'll go back to the way it was before...which means that we'll require same-sex couples to get a court order to amend a birth certificate,” she says.


Mirivel says that nine birth certificates have been amended for same-sex couples in the last week. One of those listed the names of a couple involved in the suit.


Attorney Cheryl Maples, who represents the plaintiffs in the case Pavan v. Smith, says she'll ask the state’s high court to hear arguments soon.


“Hopefully the Supreme Court will grant an expedited appeal,” says Maples. “And hopefully this won't take very long to be heard and decided.”


Maples says the right to amend a birth certificate with both spouses' names should be a consequence of this year's ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court extending marriage rights to same-sex couples.


“It's not just for the plaintiffs it's for a change to get the state of Arkansas to afford all rights of marriage to same-sex couples like they've been ordered to do,” she says.


Judd Deere, spokesman for Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, who's office defended the law, released this statement in response to the stay:


“Attorney General Rutledge is gratified that the Arkansas Supreme Court acted quickly on her request and granted a stay of Judge Fox’s order. The Attorney General disagreed with much of the lower court’s order and was concerned that it would lead to confusion and uncertainty.”