GLAD Joins Call for Supreme Court to Review Arkansas’ Refusal to List Married Same-Sex Parents on Birth Certificates


Briefs Urge Court to Enforce Obergefell and Windsor Rulings to Ensure Equal Treatment of Married Same-Sex Parents and Couples

GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) submitted two amicus briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court asserting the right of married same-sex couples to have both parents’ names listed on the birth certificates of their children. GLAD is counsel on one brief, representing 54 family law professors. GLAD is an amicus on the second brief, filed jointly with Lambda Legal.

The briefs argue that an Arkansas State Supreme Court ruling flouts the requirement in both Obergefell and Windsor that same-sex couples have access to marriage and to “the constellation of benefits that the States have linked to marriage,” on the same terms as different-sex couples.

The AK decision in Pavan v. Smith denied married same-sex couples the right to have the non-biological parent listed on a child’s birth certificate, while husbands in a different-sex couple are routinely listed as the second parent – including in cases involving assisted reproduction. In Arkansas as in other states, birth certificates are important records of legal parentage; and, as in other states, children born into a marriage are presumed to be the child of both parties to that marriage.

“In singling out same-sex married couples for different treatment, the State of Arkansas is attempting to undermine what is clearly required by Obergefell: that same-sex couples have access to marriage and to the rights, responsibilities and benefits associated with marriage on equal terms,” said Gary Buseck, GLAD Legal Director.

“As the professors of family law argue in their brief, not allowing both parents’ names to be listed on a child’s birth certificate causes real, demonstrable harm,“ Buseck continued. “It not only bestows a second-class status on those children and their families, it deprives them of many important protections, such as the availability of both parents to make critical or time-sensitive decisions regarding medical care, or access for the child to federal and state-level benefits that might flow through the unnamed parent.”

The petitioners in Pavan v. Smith are two married same-sex Arkansas couples represented by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Ropes & Gray LLP. The Family Law Professors brief was authored by Foley Hoag, GLAD, Joan Hollinger and Courtney G. Joslin of UC Davis School of Law. The joint brief of Lambda Legal and GLAD was authored by Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.

Through strategic litigation, public policy advocacy, and education, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders works in New England and nationally to create a just society free of discrimination based on gender identity and expression, HIV status, and sexual orientation.

[From a News Release]


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