Thursday, December 15, 2016

Redefining marriage doesn't redefine birth certificates, court says

Credit: AndreyUG via Shutterstock.Children’s birth certificates must be linked to biological parentage, the Arkansas Supreme Court has said in a ruling that involved the federal redefinition of marriage to recognize same-sex unions.
 
“It does not violate equal protection to acknowledge basic biological truths,” Arkansas Supreme Court Associate Judge Jo Hart wrote in the Dec. 8 decision. 

The four-member majority ruling reverses a December 2015 ruling of Little Rock Circuit Judge Tim Fox who said that the state requirement to identify both a biological mother and a biological father of a child infringed on the constitutional due process rights of adoptive same-sex couples, Arkansas News reports.

Three female couples in same-sex civil marriages brought the case. Some of the women had conceived using anonymous sperm donors. 

Insurers denied health insurance to the biological mothers’ children because of requirements that the parent-child relationship be proven by listing a parent on the child’s birth certificate.

“The purpose of the statutes is to truthfully record the nexus of the biological mother and the biological father to the child,” Judge Hart said.

Identifying a biological parent is also an “important governmental objective” to track public health trends and to assist the child in finding genetic information for medical purposes, the judge said.

In a dissent from the majority decision, Arkansas Associate Justice Paul Danielson said the ruling was “simply and demonstrably wrong.” 

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling that recognized gay marriage, he said, required that a parent’s name be listed on birth certificates “even when biological ties do not exist” as having a parent’s name listed on a birth certificate is a constitutionally guaranteed benefit associated with marriage.

He said state law requires the husband of the mother to be listed on a birth certificate, which should mean the legal parent-child relationship is based on marriage and not biology.

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