Monday, June 26, 2017

Supreme Court: Same-Sex Spouses Must Get Equal Treatment In Birth Certificates

In Pavan v. Smith, (Sup. Ct., June 26, 2017), the U.S. Supreme Court today granted certiorari and summarily (i.e. without further briefing or oral argument) reversed a decision of the Arkansas Supreme Court on the rights of same-sex married couples. The Supreme Court held that "Obergefell’s commitment to provide same-sex couples 'the constellation of benefits that the States have linked to marriage'" means that the state must apply the same rules to same-sex and opposite-sex married couples in the issuance of birth certificates. Under Arkansas law, the male spouse of a woman who gives birth appeared on a birth certificate, but the female spouse of a woman who gives birth did not.  The Supreme Court struck this differentiation down, saying that in Arkansas birth certificates are more than just a marker of biological parentage.

Justice Gorsuch, in an opinion joined by Justices Thomas and Alito, dissented saying that this is an inappropriate case for summary reversal.