Specifically, same-sex, legally married couples are finding roadblocks that heterosexual couples are not. Three couples are suing the state of Arkansas for what they feel is an improper delay on issuing correct birth certificates for their children.
The issue seems to be one of language, as birth certificates in Arkansas specifically ask for the mother's name and the father's name. This has caused some families grief because they are not simply allowed to add their partner's name because she is not a "father." And this is causing serious headaches. One couple — Leigh and Jana Jacobs — haven't been able to get their little boy's birth certificate straightened out for nearly a month!
Now, before you say, "Well, why would they add another parent's name who is not biologically related to the child?" According to the lawsuit, Arkansas does — but only for heterosexual couples. In fact, Arkansas mandates that a hetero spouse is placed on the birth certificate, unless there is a sworn statement that says otherwise. Also, in the case of an unmarried couple, the mother can provide the baby's father's name with a signed affidavit. No other proof is required.
So while the state deals with this lawsuit and contemplates a change to the birth certificate form to reflect gender-neutral parentage, we have to acknowledge the hassle and annoyance these families are going through.
As it stands, same-sex parents are required to get a court order for both of them to appear on a birth certificate. How fair is it, honestly, to expect a family to have to jump through these hoops when their heterosexual peers simply have to put the other parent's name on the form to be considered a legal parent?
A delayed birth certificate can cause all sorts of issues, and whether you're in a same-sex relationship or not, it's easy to understand the frustration that stems from a bureaucratic holdup when such a vital document is on the line. You generally need a birth certificate for things like social security numbers, travel, school registration and sports, so you can see how it can be a pain to have to wait months for a court order.
With only one parent on a birth certificate, it becomes more difficult for the other parent to act on the child's behalf, and we all know how important it is to have a birth certificate as a child moves through life. If there is a delay in issuing one, it can cause all sorts of issues, and having the state government interfere in what should be an easy process is infuriating.
Since same-sex marriage is legal across the United States, issuing birth certificates in this manner should be a no-brainer. Hopefully, some day, it will be.
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