Same-Sex Couples File Lawsuit over Denial of Birth Certificates

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LITTLE ROCK, AR – Same-sex couples have filed a lawsuit in Pulaski County asking a judge to order the Department of Health to issue birth certificates that include the names of both spouses as parents of their children.

On Friday, two couples tried to obtain birth certificates for their children. Leigh Jacobs was among them, and she was told that she would not be able to receive a birth certificate for her son.

As portions of the country celebrated the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision, Jacobs and her wife were celebrating the birth of their second son.

“With him being born the afternoon of the decision, we were so excited, and we didn’t think there would be any issues in getting his birth certificate with my wife’s name,” Jacobs said.

But they ran into an issue almost immediately.

“The hospital refused to have her, as the non-bioligical mother, added to, not even added, they just refused to write her down,” Jacobs said.

In the following three weeks Finch has grown, right along with same-sex couples’ frustrations in obtaining birth certificates with both spouses as parents.

“We were really naive and thought we could walk in and get the birth certificate,” Jacobs said.

“There’s concern that we need to develop a different process that is consistent with the ruling but also state vital records law,” said Stephanie Williams of the Arkansas Department of Health.

The department is advising couples to go through a court order process before birth certificates can be issued. So, these couples have opted to file suit.

“They have the right, just as any heterosexual couple who has secured in vitro and sperm donor, to have their names on the birth certificate,” said attorney Cheryl Maples, who filed the suit on behalf of the couples.

The lawsuit alleges heterosexual married couples enjoy the presumption that both are parents, without legal fees of court orders and adoptions.

” Those parents have all parental rights, they’re on the birth certificate and there’s no genetic proof required,” Maples said. “And these couples deserve the same rights. They’re not asking for special rights or new rights, just those offered to other couples.”

Like many other same-sex couples, Leigh and her wife waited for years to be recognized on one piece of paper.

“We want it to just be recognized as a family,” Jacobs said. “

And they’re hoping they won’t have to wait as long for this one.

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