Supreme Court Rules LGBT Parents Must Be Listed on Birth Certificates
July 10, 2017, by Shelley Thompson, attorney with Burns Figa & Will, P.C.
The United States Supreme Court ruled last month that where state law places married couples’ names on children’s birth certificates, a state cannot discriminate against same-sex couples by refusing to do so in their cases. Justices Gursuch, Alito, and Thomas dissented.
The challenge came from an Arkansas case, where a state judge had struck down part of that state’s law that discriminated against same-sex couples by requiring parents to be man and woman to list their names on their children’s birth certificate. The Arkansas Supreme Court reversed the state judge’s decision, and the U.S. Supreme Court reversed that decision. The high court reasoned that Arkansas law requires that where a couple is married, both spouses’ names go on a child’s birth certificate automatically, whether or not the husband is actually the father of the child, and whether or not the couple used a sperm donor and artificial insemination. Therefore, the Court ruled, the same rules must be applied to LGBT married couples. Otherwise, the state’s rules would conflict with the Court’s 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges ruling, prohibiting discrimination against LGBT couples in marriage. For example, the Arkansas Supreme Court interpretation meant a lesbian married couple who has used artificial insemination to have children, were not able to list both names on their child’s birth certificate the way a heterosexual couple could. This leads to one spouse/parent not be considered the legal parent of their child with schools, hospitals, insurance, divorce, and in many other important arenas, or else they must go through a lengthy, expensive, and uncertain adoption proceeding of the child.
In Colorado, similarly, the law presumes that the spouse of the person who gives birth is automatically the parent of the child. So in Colorado, since the Obergefell decision, LGBT married couples have finally been able to list both their names on their children’s birth certificates without need for costly and intrusive adoption proceedings, which LGBT couples had to do during the years before the decision. Not to mention, LGBT couples can finally enjoy the institution of marriage, without worry that their marriage won’t be recognized in one state or another. Prohibiting discrimination against same-sex couples in marriage is a good thing – like Obergefell, the High Court got this decision right.
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