Arkansas Didn’t Want to Abide by a Pro-LGBTQ Supreme Court Ruling, So This Judge Forced Them

Six months ago, the Supreme Court ruled that Arkansas had to start issuing birth certificates to same-sex parents. But the state dragged its feet. But finally, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox had had enough of waiting. So he figured out a way to get the state to comply — by issuing a court order that no Arkansas birth certificates at all could be issued. The problem was solved just two hours later.

In June, the Supreme Court heard the case of Pavan v. Smith. In that case, three married same-sex couples sued the state to get both names listed on their birth certificates. At the time, on Arkansas birth certificates, the woman’s husband was always listed, regardless of whether or not her husband was the child’s genetic father.

However, even though the same-sex couples in the case were legally married, the state refused to list both partners on the birth certificate. The certificates only named the birth mother. The other partner would then legally have to adopt the child.

Back in 2015, the case was originally heard by Judge Fox. He ruled in favor of the same-sex couples. Judge Fox cited Obergefell v. Hodges, better known as the Supreme Court decision that granted marriage equality in the United States.

In 2016, however, the Arkansas Supreme Court overturned the ruling. Justice Josephine Hart wrote “Thus, the statute centers on the relationship of the biological mother and the biological father to the child, not on the marital relationship of husband and wife.”

However, since an opposite-sex married couple would have both names written on the birth certificate regardless of biological parentage, the Federal Supreme Court reinstated Judge Fox’s original ruling, 6-3, with Neil Gorsuch writing the dissent.

Despite the ruling, Arkansas hadn’t changed their process. So Judge Fox decided to force the state’s hand. He wrote an order on Friday barring the state from issuing any birth certificates. As Arkansas typically issues between 400-500 birth certificates a day, being blocked from issuing them would cause a huge backlog of paperwork.

Luckily for the Arkansas Department of Health, they weren’t blocked for very long. Within two hours of Judge Fox’s order, Governor Asa Hutchinson issued an order to comply with the Supreme Court ruling. Hutchinson’s ruling also required the Department of Health to issue two free corrected copies of the birth certificates to be sent to same-sex couples who were unconstitutionally kept off the original certificates.

Now, that wasn’t so hard, was it?


Featured image by Zolnierek via iStock