Little Rock (AP) – The Arkansas Health Department has decided to issue amended birth certificates for children of same-sex couples who can prove they were married before the child was born, an agency spokeswoman confirmed Dec. 7.
The department reviewed an order from Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Tim Fox and decided to amend those specific birth certificates starting last Friday, department spokeswoman Meg Mirivel said. As of Monday morning, Mirivel said “a few” couples had applied for the amended certificates.
The amendments “may change depending on the Arkansas Supreme Court’s decision on (the department’s) request for a stay,” Mirivel wrote. “Because this is a legal matter that continues to develop, this is all the information we have to share at this time.”
Fox issued a written ruling last week striking down a portion of the state’s birth certificate law and saying Arkansas must amend the birth certificates to list both spouses as parents. The ruling expanded a verbal order he issued from the bench late last month that allowed the three same-sex couples who sued the Department of Health for refusing to name both spouses on the birth certificates of their children to amend the documents and list both names.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge asked the high court to stay that ruling pending the state’s appeal. As of Monday morning, the court had not ruled on that request. Rutledge spokesman Judd Deere said the office was aware of the department’s decision.
“Our advice has not changed as far as obeying the order,” he said, referring other questions to the health department.
An attorney for the couples, Cheryl Maples, has asked the court to deny the request for a stay, saying there is no irreparable harm to the state if the certificates are issued while the appeal is heard.
The department had decided Wednesday to issue amended certificates only to the children of those parents named in the lawsuit, turning away other same-sex couples seeking amended certificates.
Maples said she found out late Friday afternoon that the department had changed its position. She said she posted information on her Facebook page shortly before 4 p.m. Friday to let couples know if they moved quickly, they could make it to the department’s office before it closed.
Maples said at least one couple made it to the office Friday in time.
Jennifer Gardner-Glaze had tried last Wednesday to get her name added as a parent to her four-month-old son’s birth certificate, which only listed her wife, Tracee, as the mother. She was turned away by the department and had been considering legal options when she saw Maples’ Facebook post Friday.
The couple was married in California a few years ago, then again in Arkansas in May 2014 during the short window when a Pulaski County circuit judge struck down the state’s ban on gay marriage. They married a third time once the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, this time in Arkansas on July 10 – 16 days before their son was born.
“We showed up at 4:20 p.m. and at first they were not going to do it because they closed in 10 minutes,” Gardner-Glaze said. The couple protested and a supervisor intervened to help them get the certificate amended.
The document isn’t perfect, she said: It only lists Gardner-Glaze’s maiden name and her birthdate and birth place are missing.
“We can go back and get those things changed. But the supervisor assured me they cannot take me off of the certificate,” Gardner-Glaze said.