- Associated Press - Friday, August 14, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The Arkansas attorney general’s office wants a judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by several same-sex couples seeking to have birth certificates list a spouse who isn’t the child’s biological parent.

The couples had sued after the state Department of Health refused their requests to add the other spouse, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/1MrPtHY ) reported. They say the changes are necessary so their children can qualify for insurance coverage and have an easier time obtaining a Social Security card.

But lawyers representing the state Health Department countered in a petition filed Thursday that marriage doesn’t convey a constitutional right to a parental relationship. Parental rights are established through biology, legal procedure or court orders, not simply by whomever the child’s parent is married to, said Assistant Attorney General Colin Jorgensen.

He said all non-biological parents, regardless of sexual orientation, have to go through a legal process to be listed on the birth certificates. The families had contended that heterosexual couples weren’t subjected to the same process gay parents are to be listed on the birth certificate, which violates the U.S. Constitution.

“Plaintiffs’ due process argument rests on a false assumption that, because same-sex couples now enjoy a constitutionally-protected right to civil marriage, the adult plaintiffs who are not biologically related to the child plaintiffs have a due process right to a parental relationship with children born ‘into the marriage,’” the petition states.

“Absent a statute establishing a parent-child relationship under these circumstances, an adoption, guardianship, or other court order is generally required in order to establish parental rights, for same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples alike.”

Jorgensen said the Health Department is powerless to amend birth certificates outside of legal procedures and court orders.

The only way plaintiffs could get what they want without a court order is by changing the laws and regulations governing parental rights, he said. Until that happens, the department is bound by rules established by the state Board of Health and state laws.

The state is asking Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox to throw out the suit. No hearings have been scheduled in the case.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

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