The Arkansas Supreme Court ruled last week that only the biological parents’ names of a child should be listed in the birth certificate, blocking the names of same-sex spouses even if they would adopt the child, in order to “acknowledge basic biological truths.”
The decision reversed a 2015 ruling by Judge Timothy Davis Fox of Pulaski County Circuit Court that identifying only the child’s biological parents is a violation of the rights of same-sex couples.
Three married female couples who had children within their marriages complained when the Department of Health wrote the mother’s name on the birth certificate but refused to write the name of the same-sex spouse.
The Department of Health was acting in accordance with state law that requires them to write the father’s name even if the same-sex couple was adopting the child. The three female couples filed a lawsuit challenging this state law, citing Obergefell v. Hodges, which upholds the constitutional right of same-sex couples to marry, according to CNS News.
However, the Arkansas Supreme Court said Obergefell v. Hodges dealt with marriage. The present case was about parentage, which was a totally different argument.
"The statute centers on the relationship of the biological mother and the biological father to the child, not on the marital relationship of husband and wife," Arkansas Supreme Court Associate Judge Josephine Hart wrote. "[It] does not run afoul of Obergefell."
Judge Hart also said acknowledging “basic biological truths” is not a violation of the same-sex couple’s constitutional right.
“In the situation involving the female spouse of a biological mother, the female spouse does not have the same biological nexus to the child that the biological mother or the biological father has. It does not violate equal protection to acknowledge basic biological truths,” she wrote.
Hart further emphasized the importance of identifying the biological parent for medical purposes, such as gathering necessary genetic information and tracking public health trends.
This was in line with an affidavit from the state health department that recording the biological parents in a child’s birth record is “critical to ADH’s identification of public health trends, and it can be critical to an individual’s identification of personal health issues and genetic condition,” 5 News reported.
Arkansas Chief Justice Howard Brill said that with the changing times, it may be time for the three branches of the state government to review the legal implications of same-sex marriage.
"All three branches of the government must change accordingly,” Brill said. “It is time to heed the call.”