Equality watch: Arkansas birth certificate case still hanging | Arkansas Blog

Friday, June 23, 2017

Equality watch: Arkansas birth certificate case still hanging

Posted By on Fri, Jun 23, 2017 at 10:45 AM

NAMESAKE: Marissa Pavan is one of the parents named in a case seeking equality in the issuance of Arkansas birth certificates. - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • NAMESAKE: Marissa Pavan is one of the parents named in a case seeking equality in the issuance of Arkansas birth certificates.
The U.S. Supreme Court issued opinions today, but still no word on whether it will accept for review Pavan v. Nathaniel Smith, the challenge to the Arkansas Supreme Court ruling that allows the state to discriminate against same-sex married couples in issuance of marriage licenses.

Opposite-sex married couples are automatically presumed parents when birth certificates are issued. Only the biological parent may be listed without further court orders on birth certificates of same-sex married couples. The controlling opinion by Justice Jo Hart offered the laughable justification that the decision was rooted in biology, despite the fact that many opposite sex couples have children who are not the biological offspring of both parents.

I asked the lead counsel for the Arkansas plaintiffs about the continuing delay.  The case has been distributed for Supreme Court conference six times, most recently Thursday. The Supreme Court has requested the full record of the case. But yet it holds over, while dozens of other review petitions have been denied. The Court finishes its work this term on Monday.

This is the response I got from Douglas H. Hallward-Driemeier of Washington:

We are not at all surprised that the Supreme Court is looking at our petition for certiorari in this case very carefully. The Court requested the record from the Arkansas courts and has undoubtedly been reviewing that along with the parties’ submissions. We are hopeful that the Court will announce on Monday either that it is taking review of the case for next Term or possibly summarily reversing the ruling of the Arkansas Supreme Court as clearly inconsistent with what the U.S. Supreme Court already decided in Obergefell, which required all states to extend the rights and benefits of marriage equally to same-sex and opposite-sex couples. One of the Tennessee couples we represented in Obergefell presented precisely the same circumstances as the plaintiffs in Pavan, and the U.S. Supreme Court upheld their claim.
In this dreary world, a summary reversal of legalized discrimination by the Arkansas Supreme Court would be good news indeed.

PS: The lead plaintiffs in this case, Terrah and Marissa Pavan, DID get a proper birth certificate for their child thanks to a circuit court order, but Attorney General Leslie Rutledge appealed and shut it down for other couples soon after.

Here's the petition for review.

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