Arkansas cannot refuse to list both names of same-sex married parents on a baby’s birth certificate just because one of them is not a biological parent, the Supreme Court ruled Monday, in a decision that suggests the extent to which the justices will push their 2015 decision on same-sex marriage equality.
Arkansas had resisted, arguing that the birth certificate was a record of parentage for the child rather than a document about the marriage.
But the high court rejected that argument, saying that in situations where a child is conceived from an anonymous sperm donor, the mother’s husband is still required to be listed. Denying that same accommodation to same-sex couples violates the 2015 Obergefell ruling that established a national right to same-sex marriages.
“The State uses those certificates to give married parents a form of legal recognition that is not available to unmarried parents. Having made that choice, Arkansas may not, consistent with Obergefell, deny married same-sex couples that recognition,” the court said.
The justices’ decision reversed a state high court ruling that had upheld the law.
New Justice Neil M. Gorsuch wrote a dissent saying he wouldn’t have been so quick to overturn the state court and invalidate the law, saying the state had reasons for wanting the biological parents to be listed on a birth certificate.
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Justice Gorsuch said that, at the very least, the high court should have given the case a more thorough hearing, and said nothing about the state biological parents law clearly defies the Obergefell ruling.
He said if the state’s artificial insemination law is the problem, the court should have tackled that instead. But even then, he said a full hearing would have been appropriate.
His dissent was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr.
Gay rights groups noted that Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who wrote the chief dissent in the landmark 2015 same-sex marriage ruling, didn’t join the dissent this week.