LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Married same sex couples in Arkansas will not be able to get the names of both spouses listed on birth certificates for their children after the state’s highest court on Thursday put a temporary hold on a lower court ruling allowing it.
The exception is that three same sex couples who originally sued over the issue will be able to get birth certificates for their children.
The Arkansas Supreme Court suspended Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox’s decision striking down part of the state’s birth certificate law as unconstitutional. A spokeswoman for the state health department said that same-sex couples would need a court order to both be listed as parents now that the lower court ruling is on hold.
Earlier this week, the department had said it would issue amended birth certificates for children of same-sex couples who can prove they were married before the child was born after initially saying it would only issue them for the three couples in the case.
But the Supreme Court said it halted such birth certificates to avoid confusion.
“Substantial confusion could result if the circuit court’s order were to remain in effect and subsequently be altered by a decision of this court on appeal,” it said.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s office said she was pleased the court quickly approved her request to put the lower court ruling on hold.
“The attorney general disagreed with much of the lower court’s order and was concerned that it would lead to confusion and uncertainty,” spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement.
An attorney for the couples said she was disappointed with the court’s ruling. All three of the couples who sued the state have received amended certificates for their children since Fox’s ruling, she said.
“The evil suffered by the couples being unable to be on the birth certificate is much greater than any confusion that might result,” Cheryl Maples said.
Fox ruled that the U.S. Supreme Court decision in June legalizing gay marriage nationwide invalidates a portion of the birth certificate law that defines parents by gender.
Maples said she would ask the court to quickly take up the state’s appeal of Fox’s ruling.
In a dissenting opinion, Justice Rhonda Wood raised similar concerns that the action would deny certificates to other couples.
“The balance of the equities weighs in favor of all same-sex couples having the right to have both spouses listed on the child’s birth certificate when the child was born subsequent to that union,” she wrote. “This is especially true because these respondents are receiving immediate relief while, as a result of the majority’s stay, others will not.”