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Arkansas court throws out ruling on birth certificate law involving same-sex couples

by The Associated Press | December 8, 2016 at 10:54 a.m. | Updated December 8, 2016 at 11:24 a.m.

LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas' highest court has thrown out a judge's ruling that could have allowed married same-sex couples to get the names of both spouses on their children's birth certificates without a court order.

A split Arkansas Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Tim Fox went too far when he found the birth certificate law unconstitutional last year.

Justices sided with the state, which said Arkansas has a vested interest in listing biological parents on birth certificates. The court said it doesn't violate equal protection "to acknowledge basic biological truths."

The purpose of the statute regulating the names on birth certificates is to “truthfully record the nexus of the biological mother and the biological father to the child”; therefore, naming the nonbiological spouse on the document is not necessary, wrote Justice Josephine Linker Hart.

Justice Howard J. Brill, who concurred in part and dissented in part with the ruling, began his opinion by quoting singer Bob Dylan, saying “the times they are-a-changin.”

Brill laid out several hypotheticals involving same-sex couples using various means to get pregnant and wrote: “These scenarios are a mere preview of the variations that may be presented by the changes in society and the changes in reproductive methods.”

"Regardless of personal values and regardless of a belief that the United States Supreme Court may have wrongfully decided a legal issue, all are bound by the law of the land,” Brill added.

In a dissent, Justice Paul Danielson wrote that listing a parent's name on a birth certificate is a benefit associated with marriage that should be extended to same-sex couples under the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage.

Read Friday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for more details.

Information for this article was contributed by Emma Pettit of Arkansas Online.

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