- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 2, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas health officials said Wednesday that they would amend birth certificates of the children of three married same-sex couples who sued the state so both parents could be listed, but are holding off on issuing them to other gay couples while the case is appealed.

One of the three couples was issued a certificate Wednesday listing both spouses as parents, and a spokeswoman said the Health Department will issue amended certificates to the other two couples in the case. Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox ordered the state Tuesday to issue the amended certificates. He also struck down a portion of the state birth certificate law, a move that the plaintiffs’ attorney says clears the way for other same-sex couples to receive amended certificates.

Department of Health spokeswoman Meg Mirivel said other couples can leave their information, but the state isn’t prepared to issue them certificates yet.

“Right now we’re just doing the three couples,” Mirivel said. “Beyond that we’ll just evaluate on a case by case basis.”

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s office filed notice Wednesday morning that it is appealing Fox’s ruling to the state Supreme Court and will ask justices to suspend Fox’s order. Spokesman Judd Deere said the AG’s office advised the Health Department to issue the certificates for the children of the three couples in the case.

Rutledge’s office asked the state Supreme Court to stay Fox’s ruling and said it didn’t plan on challenging his decision regarding the three couples. Her filing argued that Fox’s broader ruling striking down part of the law could have unintended consequences, including removing the Health Department’s authority to designate anyone as a parent on a birth certificate.

“Absent a stay, there is likely to be confusion, uncertainty, and irreparable harm,” the filing said.

Jennifer Gardner-Glaze attempted Wednesday morning to get her name added as a parent to her four-month-old son’s birth certificate, which currently only lists her wife Tracee as the mother.

“If you’re going to apply the law, apply it equally,” she said. “That’s all I’m saying.”

An attorney for the couples who sued the state says Fox’s order applies to all married same-sex couples, not just the plaintiffs in her suit. Fox rule that the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage nationwide invalidates a portion of the birth certificate law that defines parents by gender.

“The Department of Health in my opinion has no choice but to comply with Judge Fox’s ruling until and unless there is a stay,” attorney Cheryl Maples said.

Maples said the other two couples in the state had initiated adoption proceedings so were unlikely to seek the amended certificates at this point.

One of the couples in the suit, Marisa and Terrah Pavan, went the Health Department when it opened Wednesday morning to get the amended birth certificate for their six-month old daughter. Marisa said she hadn’t been able to add her daughter to her health insurance since she wasn’t listed on the child’s birth certificate.

“I’m scared someone is going to take it from us,” she said. “It’s too good to be true.”


Follow Andrew DeMillo on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ademillo

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