Friday, February 17, 2017

In South Carolina, federal judge orders same-sex parent names on birth certificate

Posted By on Fri, Feb 17, 2017 at 10:43 AM

WHAT BIOLOGY? A federal judge in South Carolina has written directly contrary to Justice Jo Hart's bizarre finding that the issue of names on birth certificates was a matter of biology, not a matter of marital status.
  • WHAT BIOLOGY? A federal judge in South Carolina has written directly contrary to Justice Jo Hart's bizarre finding that the issue of names on birth certificates was a matter of biology, not a matter of marital status.
From Slate, news of a federal court ruling in South Carolina that runs contrary to the "wisdom" of the Arkansas Supreme Court:

In 2015’s Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court ruled that states must provide marriage rights to same-sex couples “on the same terms and conditions as opposite-sex couples.” So it may be rather surprising that in 2017, some conservative states continue to insist that they can deny gay couples the rights and benefits granted to heterosexual couples—simply because same-sex spouses are of the same sex. One particular flashpoint is birth certificates, and the latest battle occurred in South Carolina, where the government claimed it need not list same-sex parents on their child’s birth certificate. Fortunately, on Wednesday, a federal judge shot down this bizarre assertion, ordering the state to list same-sex couples on birth certificates. But this battle is far from over, and its final resolution will likely have to come from the Supreme Court itself.

I highlight "bizarre assertion" because this is precisely the assertion being made by Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and upheld in an even more bizarre majority opinion written by Justice Jo Hart that claimed same-sex couples were being denied due process properly because the the aim of statute "is to truthfully record the nexus of the biological mother and the biological father to the child."

This is utter bullshit and a lasting shame to the Arkansas Supreme Court majority that endorsed it. Parenthood is automatically presumed for all married heterosexual couples, no matter how a child was conceived. But Jo Hart, who I believe is acting out of long-held bias against gay people for religious reasons, thinks married same-sex couples should be denied that presumption.

The South Carolina judge was right. Jo Hart and her fellow enabling justices were wrong. Some day, justice should prevail. Which is a good time to remember the departed Justice Paul Danielson, for another of the sound bits of jurisprudence we'll miss in this case:

In a dissent, Justice Paul Danielson argued that listing a parent's name on a birth certificate is "a benefit associated with marriage" and noted that "the United States Supreme Court held in Obergefell that states are not free to deny same-sex couples 'the constellation of benefits that the States have linked to marriage.' Importantly, the Court listed 'birth and death certificates' specifically as one of those benefits attached to marital status."

Plaintiffs in the Arkansas case are attempting a U.S. Supreme Court appeal.

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