Justice, Arkansas style: Discrimination continues on birth certificates | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Justice, Arkansas style: Discrimination continues on birth certificates

Posted By on Tue, Jun 27, 2017 at 2:14 PM

A woman married to another woman reports continuing obstacles to getting a birth certificate for her newborn. Is the state of Arkansas resisting?

Her account:

So much for progress... on my fourth trip to vital records I return having paid but having no birth certificate. Baptist held up the paperwork because I had checked the box saying I was married but had not added a father. BECAUSE I AM NOT MARRIED TO A MAN. Vital records told me to come back this afternoon — after Baptist released my paperwork — and it would be keyed in immediately. But a very rude employee just let me know that I would need to come back in a week. I need the birth certificate so that we can file an adoption because Arkansas is not moving immediately forward with the Supreme Court's ruling. Vital records will be waiting for the Arlamsas Supreme Court to give them direction. And a Baptist employee took it upon herself to tell me this morning that I would need an adoption. I am beyond frustrated. I want to get in my minivan with my family and drive far away from this state that obviously doesn't want me or my family.

And I have a newborn at home.
The U.S. Supreme Court has said denying this birth certificate is unconstitutional. It has ordered reversal of the Arkansas Supreme Court's earlier order legalizing discrimination and directed an order implementing the law of the land.

What is the Health Department doing? Nothing, apparently. It will take names for a waiting list for justice, but that's about it.

I've asked the Health Department for a timetable for providing equal treatment under the law. I've asked the attorney general's office if it has yet developed concrete plans to implement the law of the land. I hope I don't learn that they'll soon be talking regulations subject to legislative review. Justice delayed is justice denied. This is beginning to smell rotten.

And, need I add, the last thing we need is officious bureaucrats pronouncing law to birth certificate applicants.

UPDATE: Here's the helpful response from the attorney general, without even a drop of concern for the people being disadvantaged:
The case is remanded back to the State Supreme Court at the moment.
Her spokesman, Judd Deere, elaborated:

I don't have a timetable to offer.

I would point you back to what the AG said in her statement yesterday. She will ensure that the law is followed properly.

Nonetheless, the Supreme Court has spoken, and I will continue to review today’s decision to determine the appropriate next steps upon remand to the Arkansas Supreme Court to ensure that the law is followed properly
The state Health Department hasn't deigned to respond. This is a simple fix. Arkansas need only do as other states have done and prepare forms to cover spouses.

Supreme Court about to go on summer recess by the way. They can only be bestirred for emergencies like hurrying death penalties and stopping equal treatment of gay people.

UPDATE: Health Department spokesman now says:

Max, there is a process we have to follow. The US Supreme Court must issue a mandate to the AR Supreme Court, and we must await guidance from them. As soon as I know more specifics about the timeline, I will let you know.

I apologize for this woman’s experience in our Vital Records office. If you have her name and contact information, I will forward it to a supervisor to follow up with her as soon as possible.

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