The four-page orders follows a decision from Little Rock Circuit Judge Tim Fox requiring the state to list same-sex parents on the documents as a result of a lawsuit filed by three female same-sex couples and their married children.
The Arkansas Department of Health agreed to issue the plaintiff couples on the birth certificates for their children, but sought a stay pending appeal on the extension of the ruling statewide on the basis that conflicts with state law and leaves birth registrars in legal uncertainty.
The per curiam order from the Arkansas Supreme Court states it considers in granting a stay request “preservation of the status quo anti, if possible, and the prejudicial effect of the passage of time necessary to complete the appeal.”
“The named plaintiffs either have already received or will receive the individual relief they have requested, so a stay will not prejudice them,” the order says. “Also, the issues presented are complex, with portions of a statute being struck and substantial additions being made to a provision of the Arkansas Code by the circuit court. Substantial confusion could result if the circuit court’s order were to remain in effect and subsequently be altered by a decision of this court on appeal.”
Arkansas Associate Justice Rhonda Wood dissented in part with respect to denying a stay, but concurred with other aspects to the order.
“The State has elected not to appeal the court’s ruling as it relates to these respondents,” Wood writes. “This suggests that, at a minimum, the State concedes that children born subsequent to a same-sex couple’s union should be issued birth certificates and that there is no irreparable harm in issuing the certificates.”
Arkansas Associate Justice Paul Danielson also dissented from the majority.
The decision is made amid ongoing battles in many states to ensure the names of same-sex parents are listed on their children’s birth certificates.
In August, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Equality Florida filed a federal lawsuit challenging Florida’s refusal to treat same-sex parents the same as different-sex couples from the purposes of birth certificates. Plaintiffs in that case filed a motion Wednesday asking the court to issue a ruling without a trial.