Birth cer­tifi­cate changes re­jected

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - VOICES - JOHN MORITZ

Se­nate law­mak­ers re­jected re­vi­sions to Arkansas birth cer­tifi­cate laws Mon­day. The changes were first pro­posed by the Repub­li­can at­tor­ney gen­eral’s of­fice as a so­lu­tion to a claim of equal rights vi­o­la­tions raised by same-sex cou­ples.

Se­nate Bill 580 would swap ref­er­ences to hus­band or wife with the word “spouse” in the sec­tion of the Arkansas code deal­ing with birth cer­tifi­cates for chil­dren born by ar­ti­fi­cial in­sem­i­na­tion. The Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee quashed the bill with a voice vote Mon­day.

While the bill is spon­sored by two Lit­tle Rock Democrats, Sens. Joyce El­liott and Will Bond, the change was first pro­posed by Solic­i­tor Gen­eral Lee Rud­of­sky, who suc­cess­fully de­fended the statutes cited in the law­suit.

How­ever, most Repub­li­cans on the Se­nate com­mit­tee voted Mon­day against the pro­posed change. The com­mit­tee’s vice chair­man, Sen. Linda Collins-Smith, R-Poc­a­hon­tas, said the change would be against “the nat­u­ral or­der for birth.”

The law­suit, brought by same-sex cou­ples who had each con­ceived chil­dren by ar­ti­fi­cial in­sem­i­na­tion, said the Arkansas Depart­ment of Health gave them un­equal treat­ment by re­fus­ing to is­sue birth cer­tifi­cates nam­ing both par­ents as moth­ers.

The cou­ples ar­gued state law re­gard­ing birth cer­tifi­cates re­quired them to go through the process of le­gal adop­tion to have both par­ents listed on an amended birth cer­tifi­cate. A Pu­laski County judge ruled in the cou­ples’ fa­vor and struck down the law, but the Supreme Court re­versed and dis­missed the case in De­cem­ber.

Dur­ing ar­gu­ments, Rud­of­sky of­fered his al­ter­nate so­lu­tion: In­stead of strik­ing down the law broadly, the court could change its in­ter­pre­ta­tion of just the ar­ti­fi­cial in­sem­i­na­tion statute to in­clude the word “par­ent.” He pro­posed un­der the ar­ti­fi­cial in­sem­i­na­tion statute, the hus­band of a woman who gives birth through ar­ti­fi­cial in­sem­i­na­tion, or ei­ther par­ent of a child born of sur­ro­gacy, would be listed as a par­ent on the birth cer­tifi­cate re­gard­less of their bi­o­log­i­cal con­nec­tion.

The high court de­clined to make the change be­cause it wasn’t a part of the ar­gu­ment re­ferred to jus­tices. Two jus­tices wrote con­cur­ring opin­ions specif­i­cally point­ing out the Leg­is­la­ture’s abil­ity to re­solve the is­sue.

Those who spoke in fa­vor of SB580 said they were sim­ply tak­ing the court’s ad­vice.

“As I re­call, they ba­si­cally in­vited us to pass this bill,” said Sen. Jeremy Hutchin­son, R-Lit­tle Rock, com­mit­tee chair­man. He said statutes in­vited more lit­i­ga­tion against the state be­cause the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in fa­vor of same-sex mar­riage.

Collins-Smith noted Arkansans voted to de­fine mar­riage as be­ing be­tween one man and one woman though a 2004 amend­ment to the state con­sti­tu­tion. The amend­ment was trumped by the U.S. Supreme Court de­ci­sion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.